Iowa Gov. Chet Culver broke ground yesterday on a new $131 million maximum-security prison that will replace an antiquated facility that predates the Civil War, reports the Des Moines Register. “This is a great day for the city of Fort Madison,” said Mayor Steve Ireland, calling it an economic boost for the region. “
Support for the prison runs deep in the southeast Iowa community of 10,987, where the Iowa State Penitentiary has been a landmark since it was established as a territorial prison in 1839. The penitentiary is a major employer, providing jobs for 464 people. Curtiss Pulitzer, a New York-based criminal justice consultant, told the Iowa Board of Corrections the new prison will be one of the best in the nation and he expects many corrections professionals will want to visit Fort Madison. The new facility will allow better supervision of inmates, will provide more safety for staff and offenders, and will have a goal of moving high-security offenders to lower custody levels, officials said. Offenders will participate in a full day of constructive programs, work and activities consistent with their individual needs, the prison’s priorities, and approved professional corrections practices, they added.