The Des Moines Register, Saturday, April 4, 1998, Page 6M
Women's prison to be renovated
By WILLIAM PETROSKI
Fort Dodge, Ia. - State
officials outlined plans Friday for a major expansion and renovation of the aging
Mitchellville prison to cope with sharply higher numbers of female inmates.
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
Mitchellville Warden Barbara Long told the Iowa Board of Corrections,
which held its monthly meeting in Fort Dodge, that ground will be broken this fall on the
$16 million first phase of the construction plans. The work will include new housing
for 208 inmates.
Long said the prison had only 60 inmates when she arrived in 1985, but
it now holds nearly 500 women in space rated for fewer than 300.
Some projections show the Mitchellville inmate population could clinib
to 800 to 900 or even much higher over the next decade.
One of the key reasons behind the growth has been a rising number of
women serving time for drug-related crimes.
"We have been growing by leaps and bounds," Long said.
She warned that the current inmate population at Mitchellville "is just the
tip of the iceberg of what is coming."
The first phase of the improvements, due to be completed in 2000,
includes construction of a 160-bed medium-security dormitory and a 48-bed unit with cells.
Some of the other plans include a new prison industries building, a
remodeled visitor center, relocation of inmate programs, construction of a new entrance
road, and security improvements.
About $3.6 million will be spent to replace antiquated heating
equipment and to upgrade other utilities. Some of this equipment was originally
installed many years ago when the institution was a state juvenile facility for girls.
The expense of the first-phase construction will be paid for with a mix
of money that includes federal anti-crime grants and state appropriations pending before
the Iowa Legislature, officials said.
Iowa Corrections Director W. L. "Kip" Kautzky said that by
some projections, Iowa could have more than 1,500 women behind bars by 2007 if current
Kautzky noted that five inmates at Mitchellville have a lawsuit pending
against the Iowa Department of Corrections, alleging that their living conditions amount
to cruel and unusual punishment.
Reporter William Petroski can be
reached at (515) 284-8547 or
The Des Moines Register
Saturday, April 4, 1998, Page 6M