The 61-year-old Michigan native was hired as warden of Iowa’s maximum security prison in 2010. “During my interview, there was an intense focus on changing the culture of the big, bad, old Iowa State Penitentiary,” Ludwick said.
At the time Ludwick took the job, the prison in Fort Madison was the oldest facility of its kind west of the Mississippi River. It first opened in 1839 and Ludwick remembers employee morale in the prison was at a very low level in 2010.
“I also discovered a facility that lacked civility, that lacked communication between staff, as well as staff and offenders,” Ludwick said. Groundbreaking on a new prison began just as Ludwick became warden. He oversaw the transfer of 600-plus prisoners to the new Iowa State Penitentiary in August 2015.
“I asked one of the lifers after we moved, ‘What did you think of that move?’ He said, ‘well, I’ll give you a B-plus.’ I said, ‘A B-plus? That was a great move, why don’t I get an A?’ He said, ‘we don’t give As.'” Ludwick made those comments before a meeting of the Board of Corrections.
Luckwick is battling cancer and said his oncologist convinced him to retire and focus on spending time with his family. Earlier this month, the Board of Corrections approved the appointment of Patti Wachtendorf as the new warden of the Iowa State Penitentiary. She’ll become the facility’s first female warden next Wednesday.
Wachtendorf has been the warden of the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville. Taking her place will be Sheryl Dahm, who’s spent one year as warden of the Clarinda Correctional Facility. A search is underway for a new warden at Clarinda.