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Iowa Department of Corrections announces budget cuts and suspension of services 

Anamosa State Penitentiary

DES MOINES – The state’s top prison official today announced the implementation of $5.5 million in cuts which includes the suspension of services at certain state institutions and a 3% staff reduction.

Iowa Department of Corrections (DOC) Director Jerry Bartruff commented on these adjustments by stating: “The Department of Corrections understands the fiscally challenging position that the state is in, and thanks the Governor, Lt. Governor, and legislature for enacting budget adjustments that allow the Department to strategically streamline services. The department has been studying the best way to implement these adjustments for weeks. We’ve worked collaboratively with all institutions and community based corrections districts to identify the most strategic way to implement these changes. The actions that we are taking meet the high expectation of safety in our facilities, while also ensuring that the Department does not have to close any of our institutions. While change is rarely easy, the Department of Corrections will make the necessary reallocation of resources to ensure the highest level of safety for the public, the staff, and the offenders under our supervision.”

Highlights from the Budget Adjustments: 

To strategically implement the required adjustments within the Department, the DOC will suspend services in the following units:

  • Luster Heights Camp (Harper’s Ferry)
  • Lodge Unit (Clarinda)
  • John Bennett Unit (Fort Madison)
  • Residential Treatment Services (Sheldon; community based corrections)

In total, these adjustments in services comply with Senate File 130, result in an estimated reduction in staff positions of three percent, and ensure public safety remains the highest priority.

The Department has begun to notify staff across the state that may be impacted by the consolidations, and many will have the opportunity to work in other units or institutions within the Department.

AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement in response to the facility closures and Correctional Officer layoffs announced by the Iowa Department of Corrections:

“It’s a scary time for correctional employees across Iowa. The Iowa Department of Corrections informed us that they would be laying off a number of probationary Correctional Officers, though it is unclear exactly how many that will be. Eight officers from Fort Madison and nine officers from the Iowa State Penitentiary have already been terminated, though I fear there may be many more. DOC also announced plans to close down the Luster Heights Camp at Harper’s Ferry, the Lodge at Clarinda, the John Bennett Unit at Fort Madison, and the Residential Treatment Services at the Sheldon Community Based Corrections facility. Contrary to the Department’s statement, this was not done collaboratively; it was an arbitrary announcement. AFSCME wasn’t notified of these actions until after they were put in place.

“At a time when our prisons are severely understaffed, this is the last place that the State of Iowa needs to be cutting corners. Branstad and Reynolds have given away our state’s massive surplus in the form of tax credits and giveaways to big businesses while underfunding public services. When the budget disaster they created came back to bite them, rather than borrowing from the maxed-out rainy day fund or ending some tax cuts, they decided to balance their failed budget on the backs of public employees. These layoffs and closures are completely avoidable under responsible leadership, but unfortunately that’s something we’re lacking. I invite Governor Branstad and soon-to-be Governor Reynolds to spend a day in an understaffed prison; maybe then they’ll reconsider where cuts should be made.”

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