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Iowa corrections head says more money needed this year to staff prisons

This news story was published on December 23, 2011.
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Rod Boshart, C.R. Gazette –

The head of Iowa’s corrections system projects his agency will need up to $8 million to keep the state’s prisons fully staffed through the current fiscal year that ends June 30.

“Our goal is to employ as many staff as our budget allows,” John Baldwin, director of the state Department of Corrections, told legislators this week. However, he acknowledged his agency’s current general-fund appropriation will not fully fund the 2,698 prison staff and 1,113 employees within the community-based corrections system through the fiscal year’s remaining six months.

“We have retained staff that we don’t have money for,” he told members of the Legislature’s Fiscal Committee. “We’re clearly in need of support this year. We’re looking at savings and we’re cutting down as much as we can.”

Baldwin said his agency is attempting to shave overtime costs by more than half this fiscal year – from $5.9 million in fiscal 2011 to a projected $2.55 million in fiscal 2012 – as a way to address a nearly $14.5 million shortfall in salary costs. However, he expects his department will need a supplemental appropriation between $7 million and $8 million yet this fiscal year to maintain the staff needed to supervise a prison population that stood at 8,548 on Friday and a CBC population of more than 30,500 offenders.

Gov. Terry Branstad said he is aware of the issue and he expected to have a better sense of the budget situation in early January once he and his staff analyze the numbers and prepare the budget plan he will present to lawmakers on Jan. 10.

“We will look at their situation,” the governor said in an interview. “I don’t like to do supplementals unless they’re absolutely necessary. We don’t want to jeopardize public safety, so we want to be real careful about that. But they’ve also had to eat the salary increases that the previous administration accepted without any negotiations.”

Pay increases approved by the Culver administration have swallowed up money without leaving any to increase prison staff, Branstad aides have argued.

The collective bargaining agreements that included phased wage increases of at least 3 percent for the current and 2013 fiscal years requires a salary adjustment of more than $16.7 million this year even after the corrections agency had 325 employees take early retirement and only 126 positions were refilled. Last year Baldwin’s department received about $22 million in supplemental funding to function.

Unionized state workers have held rallies outside correctional facilities this year complaining that state corrections officials are ignoring a legislative directive to add more prison staff that is making state prisons increasingly dangerous places to work.

Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the projected deficit to maintain the staff needed to keep state prisons safe is “800-pound gorilla” facing budget-makers as they prepare for the 2012 session that begins Jan. 9.

“I know something has to happen when we get back into session. I’m kind of amazed that we’re just dancing around this,” he said. “We’d better figure something out. I don’t know what form it will be. I’m just trying to keep all the options open. To me the best would be a supplemental.”

Rep. Scott Raecker, R-Urbandale, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said Iowans have identified public safety as a priority need so lawmakers will “take a very serious look at any recommendations that are made and if there is additional needs. The first place we’ll look is to the existing budget that we have. Out the $6 billion that we’re spending, is there money that’s still in that budget that can be transferred or moved over to meet the needs that he has articulated.”

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26 Responses to Iowa corrections head says more money needed this year to staff prisons

  1. Peter Reply Report comment

    December 25, 2011 at 5:40 am

    Okay, here’s my concession. I awoke early this morning hypnagogically pondering the issue of legalized drugs, and how that would play out in commerce and in the general public. I concur that not everyone in society is an intelligent, rationale, well mannered person capable of knowing they are under the influence of a drug and reigning in their behavior. Some are already prone to violence and testosterone. Would legalized drugs spin some people wildly out of control, or is this just fear and propaganda? Do drugs turn people into lunatic monsters? I’m reflecting on these questions, and I will attempt to visualize the issue from a commercial, product-on-the-shelf perspective. What would a legal drug world look like? Obviously if the products were manufactured and sold, they would need some form of regulation and control. Taxing and controlling the product would at least offer users a chance to buy the product in a store as opposed to the streets, where they don’t know what they are getting. Warnings, labels and dosing information could better be provided and monitored by store purchased products. But in the end would the products themselves transform an otherwise rationale, peaceful person into the drug crazed monster we hear about? That I don’t know. For this I will further reflect.

    • Peter Reply Report comment

      December 25, 2011 at 5:45 am

      *I’m referring to manufactured drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin…not naturally occuring plants like marijuana or mushrooms like psilocybin. Marijuana and psilocybin would automatically be legal, because they are naturally occurring species.

  2. Linda at the Lake Reply Report comment

    December 24, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    “What’s your beef with marijuana?” Where did this come from and why do you continually change the focus of the discussions? I have read the many posts (that you seem to dominate) on NIT and at first glance, it seemed as though you might have been picked on in the past. After reading more of your rants (in your mind, explanations) I can see why people disagree with you. Remember when I said I felt you were lonely and angry, well, there is far more to you than just those two things. If I were to merely venture a guess, I would guess that you are also most likely unmarried, dislike women and are a little man on top of being pathetic too. I will no longer respond to you on this topic as it will never end and you will never admit to being wrong in the first place. I will still pray for you tonight because I feel that you are worth saving even if you can’t save yourself. Go in peace.

  3. Linda at the Lake Reply Report comment

    December 24, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I did not miss anything. But, for you to write “Go drink a Budweiser, hop in your jacked up truck and hit a bridge without your seatbelt on” was beyond any logical, normal persons way of reasoning or thinking. I feel sorry for you. It must be terrible to be so lonely and angry that you lash to out at others in your efforts to feel like a man. Just as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, I will pray for you and ask that you can find happiness in your life.

    • Lizard King Reply Report comment

      December 24, 2011 at 3:39 pm

      Yes, Merry Christmas Peter. Hopefully someday you will find the happiness that you are looking for. Must be terrible to feel the way you do, I can only imagine. Nevertheless, Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    • Peter Reply Report comment

      December 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      Excuse me ma’am, but when someone explicitly suggests that people who smoke marijuana or use drugs should be executed, and their organs harvested…that deserves a severe response. Being we are in North Iowa, and that so many people drive around in large obnoxious (unmuted) trucks, & drink Budweiser…I found it apt to tell this writer to basically “go to hell” in my own creatively colloquial way. So if you are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ this weekend, maybe you should celebrate and think about the birth of human rights…the triumph of this country over tyranny, and go deep into your Christian heart to ask yourself if you think it apropos to deprive some people of liberty and limb to stop them from using a plant that naturally grows in God’s Kingdom? How is it so many people get to drink wine, beer and other spirits, yet they cannot light up a joint and smoke it? What’s your beef with marijuana? Haven’t you realized by now that many of your favorite actors, artists, musicians have used marijuana to help them create the art you probably have enjoyed at some time or another? Are so many people wrong, and you are right? Right enough to go along with such Draconian measures? Right enough to execute people, like China does? I think if you want me to engage in this conversation civilly (which I have), you’d better reign in people who throw the first stones, and know within your own Christian self where you stand on things of such fundamental importance. Other than that…have a nice holiday celebrating the First Ammendment…freedom of religious observance.

    • Peter Reply Report comment

      December 24, 2011 at 3:56 pm

      @Lizard King: Yes it is terrible to feel the way I do. It’s too bad Society’s inconsistent hypocrisies and injustices leave me no alternative. Digging in for the long haul, isn’t something typical people are capable of doing. But you know after basically accepting the miserable cards that have been dealt to me…I decided I was going to dedicate the remainder of my life towards achieving lofty ideals. Maybe one day I’ll see the world reflected back at me as those ideals…maybe I won’t. But at least I left a record of how I felt…so maybe one day future generations (after they work out the troubles and arrive at my conclusions) can read back on me and smile. Nothing wrong with achieving a Utopian Vision. Every time I stare at the golden sunset, I am renewed as to my goals and lifeplan.

  4. Observer Reply Report comment

    December 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    “ It’s ridiculous for the government to isolate and prohibit certain materials…… Such a policy is pig-headed, and cannot be sustained in the long term.”

    News flash Peter, the U.S. first outlawed addictive drugs in the early 1900s. That’s over a century ago. It has been sustained in the long run.

    Stamp your feet and call names all you want. The only reason they are still illegal, is the majority in the U.S. want it that way.

    Peter, there is always the Netherlands or some third world country you can move to, and create your own little utopia. Please write back to us and tell how it is going for ya.

    • Peter Reply Report comment

      December 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm

      What’s still working? The constant incarceration of drug users? After 100 years of constant supply and demand, you’d think the Government would realize drugs are here to stay. That’s where we find the true reason Government wants to keep drugs illegal. They make a whole lot of money off them, and men get to run around and play Rambo. It’s a fun little game for law enforcement to stake out and arrest drug users and dealers. I’d like to end their little game, and put them to work doing something useful for a change…actually most of them would be fired and would need to find real jobs.

    • Observer Reply Report comment

      December 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm

      Peter, you still refuse to understand, the Government only a reflection of the people. And it is the will of the people to keep those drugs illegal.

    • Tom Reply Report comment

      December 28, 2011 at 7:54 am

      Observer, the people we have voted into office are the ones who keep all the bs laws in the books. It has been “for the people, by the people who are in office” for many years. Where has “by the people” gone.

  5. Linda at the Lake Reply Report comment

    December 24, 2011 at 7:31 am

    “Go drink a Budweiser, hop in your jacked up truck and hit a bridge without your seatbelt on.” Really??? Comments like this are surely not from a person in their right mind. You must be a lonely, angry little man to say such things. We will pray for you.

    • Peter Reply Report comment

      December 24, 2011 at 10:29 am

      Linda, did you miss this: “The only other solution would be to execute them and harvest their organs to get some worth out of them.”

      So it’s acceptable to everyone to execute someone who uses a substance and harvest their organs? Has China finally taken over?

      People use substances. I would be willing to bet that you’ve probably had some morning java, and may even drink some wine or alcohol tonite. Why is your consumption acceptable, yet other people’s not?

      Double standards. Hypocritical. Bullyish. And just plain WRONG.

    • Peter Reply Report comment

      December 24, 2011 at 10:47 am

      You cannot distinguish / discriminate between substances, materials, agents that people put in their bodies, other than an advisory capacity. The Government can ADVISE people that certain substances may be harmful and at what doses…but they cannot PROHIBIT. It’s just not their business to tell you what you put in your body. I don’t care whether it’s vegetables, herbs, pharmaceuticals, street drugs, coffee, alcohol…or even bark from a tree. It’s ridiculous for the government to isolate and prohibit certain materials. The earth is vast and the universe infinite. Such a policy is pig-headed, and cannot be sustained in the long term.

  6. Observer Reply Report comment

    December 24, 2011 at 3:58 am

    Brain dead form of population control?? Peter wants criminals to run the roost. He wants no consequences for it’s members actions against society.

    Freedom comes at a cost. Limits must be placed upon certain behaviors deemed anti-social in order to maintain a free society. No society has ever survived without those limits.

    • Peter Reply Report comment

      December 24, 2011 at 10:32 am

      If you want to completely go off the mark, and try to equate people smoking marijuana in their own homes with loss of freedom and decline of western civilization…then I suppose you’ll believe about anything. As far as prison being a brain dead form of population control…IT IS. It’s also a defacto way to provide cheap labor to industries who have paired with The Department of Corrections.

  7. Watchdog Reply Report comment

    December 24, 2011 at 12:10 am

    They need to get in touch with the author of this article on Percentage Pay Increases and apply his logic to pay raises for state employers too.

    Read this article for an intelligent solution to the State of Iowa’s funding problem.

  8. Peter Reply Report comment

    December 24, 2011 at 12:03 am

    Follow the pattern folks. Republicans want to build more prisons, and fund wars. It’s their mantras. They have something in their genetic makeup that makes them fascist. They don’t feel right unless they are killing, locking-up, bullying or intimidating other humans. Born fascist creeps, posing as religious.

  9. Peter, smoke this! Reply Report comment

    December 24, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Since when is a drug offender non-violent? Drugs kill more people then a gun ever has. Only thing is, they are still walking around. Zombies are what they should be referred to. Brain dead and violent people that will explode at any time.

    Take this Peter fellow that is always commenting on here. He has hurt more people then any murderer, and quite bad at that. This Peter guy blames an orderly society for everything. If you talked to his parents you would find a mountain of pain he has caused because of his drug usage. He is still under the influence of them now.. Only a drug user would ramble on like this.

    No, keep all those druggies in prison. They are nothing but a pock on society. Useless and costly. The only other solution would be to execute them and harvest their organs to get some worth out of them.

    • Peter Reply Report comment

      December 24, 2011 at 12:08 am

      Execute? For what crime? Sorry charlie, your’e not going to get to cherry pick what substances you keep legal, while criminalizing others based on your arbitrary whims, or superstitious belief patterns. Give up the coffee, Mt. Dew, Energy Drinks, ALCOHOL, Tylenol and then come to me talking about “drugs”. Again, you’re another case of a person who is too stupid to delve analytically into the issue. All you see and hear about is DRUGS DRUGS DRUGS, and you instantly are conditioned to foam at the mouth and reach for your AR-15. The best use of execution in my opinion would be for loud tailpipe offenders. As far as trying to get personal with my life and family. Screw you. You know nothing about me or my life. Go drink a Budweiser, hop in your jacked up truck and hit a bridge without your seatbelt on. Loser.

    • Peter Reply Report comment

      December 24, 2011 at 12:16 am

      You want to get violent with me? Look me up in the phonebook and come on over and execute me. Phony punk. And don’t ever talk about my family or parents again. Now scram.

    • Peter Reply Report comment

      December 24, 2011 at 12:23 am

      Actually, all of your points are non-factual and untrue. So there’s really no reason for me to get worked up about them. Basic libertarian philosophy states that unless you’re causing harm to someone else, one’s own actions are up to the individual- That includes doing drugs. If someone commits crimes against other people or property…there are provisions in the law to prosecute them. So in essence, your personal desire to execute people who have done nothing to you, is a true sign of the violence found within you. You need therapy. And you definitely need to stay out of law enforcement or the law making process.

  10. Peter Reply Report comment

    December 23, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    No I don’t think so. If anything your budget needs to be cut. Don’t believe this liar for one moment. Imprisoning people is a brain-dead form of population control. It’s funny that the pro-life conservatives are against birth control, yet they have no problem stuffing the excess births into prisons, when society has no place for them. Has anyone ever thought that the prison industrial complex is breeding their own populations of people courtesy of the Department of Human Services? Stop the damn births, release the non-violent drug offenders, and you’ll have plenty of space in your prisons. You moron.