New Fort Madison Prison Nearly Ready To Open Gates

By Mark Carlson, Reporter

A shot inside the maximum security wing of the new maximum security prison in Fort Madison. (Mark Carlson/KCRG-TV9)

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By Richard Pratt

FORT MADISON, Iowa -- A new maximum security prison in Fort Madison is about ready to open its gates, although prisoners likely won't begin moving in until early next year.

The new $130 million Iowa State Penitentiary will be the state's most secure facility, capable of housing around 800 of Iowa's worst offenders.

"This is a great investment for the taxpayers in the state of Iowa," said warden Nick Ludwick.

The project was set in motion after two inmates escaped in 2005 from the current facility, which is located about a mile from the new prison.

The old prison was built in 1839, making it the oldest active prison west of the Mississippi River.

The new facility will use nearly 400 cameras to monitor all aspects of the 45-acre secure campus. The entire area is surrounded by razor wire and an electric fence.

Governor Terry Branstad will hold a ribbon cutting at the prison tomorrow. Offenders are still in the transitional phase of the moving process.

"This will be difficult on many of the offenders," said Ludwick. "Many have lived in the other facility for decades."

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