Corrections-logoThe director of the Iowa Department of Corrections says the state’s sex offender treatment program, currently housed in Mount Pleasant, will be moved to Newton.

Jerry Bartruff says the move will provide for better use of both staff and facilities. “The exchange is an opportunity to use our resources more effectively, use the staff we have more consistently, and also address a couple of treatment needs that we’ve identified,” Bartruff said.

The Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility houses nearly 900 inmates, about 200 of which are serving time for sex crimes. Bartruff says the Mount Pleasant facility has a dormitory-style environment that’s not appropriate for many sex offenders, while the Newton prison is more versatile and secure.

“The Newton facility, which is fairly new, has a design that includes single cells, multiple cells and also a dorm,” Bartruff said. “It gives us an opportunity to increase the likelihood that all sex offenders who need treatment can get treatment before they return to the community,” Bartruff said.

The Newton Correctional Facility currently has about 1,300 inmates. A plan to transition the convicted sex offenders from Mount Pleasant to Newton is still being developed, according to Bartruff, so the move likely won’t happen until sometime next year. He doesn’t believe the change will alter staffing at either prison. “This whole process, from it’s design, is revenue neutral. But, we do believe that we can utilize the staff that we currently have in both institutions more effectively,” Bartruff said.

The Correction chief says he understands residents of Newton may have concerns about convicted sex offenders being moved to their city, but Bartruff notes there have been no serious incidents involving those inmates over the time they’ve been housed in Mount Pleasant. “I don’t think there’s a significant risk to the community at all and we wouldn’t make a move like this if we thought we were creating an opportunity for something like that to happen,” Bartruff said.

Once the prisoners are moved, Bartruff plans for the Mount Pleasant prison will be downgraded from a medium-security environment to a minimum-security facility, placing fewer restricts on the movement of inmates.