WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Prison Problems in Ft Madison

Jun 26, 2013

An Iowa Corrections Department spokesman said a break-in at a prison construction site in Fort Madison resulted in the theft of computers and software that detail facility drawings.

A drawing of the new Ft Madison prison, which is scheduled to open next year
Credit Jason Parrott

Corrections spokesman Fred Scaletta said in a news release issued this week that the theft occurred June 19 at the construction site for the new Iowa State Penitentiary. Items stolen from a trailer adjacent to the fenced-off construction area included laptop computers and tools.

Danny Homan, president of the local council of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employee, called the theft of prison plans a "major security breach." 

Homan also said staffing levels need to be raised to prevent contraband from entering the prison.

Scaletta said the corrections department welcomes ideas from staff and that staffing levels haven't cause contraband to increase.

Movement Restricted at the Prison

Meanwhile, the Iowa State Penitentiary and Clinical Care Unit in Fort Madison has been placed under restricted movement following the discovery of suspicious items.

The Corrections Department said a 17-foot rope and a bottle with an unknown substance were found Monday during a routine search of an upper cell house. The department later discovered a 10-foot rope and another unknown substance.

The restriction means people at the penitentiary will be mostly limited to their cells, including for meals.

The ropes were fashioned with braided sheets, and other items included blankets, gloves and sand paper.

Scaletta said the materials indicate there might have been plans for an attempt to escape from the penitentiary.

He said it's unclear when the restriction will be lifted.