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Problems Prevent State from Closing Fort Madison Penitentiary

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FORT MADISON, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Department of Corrections is delaying plans to close the 175-year-old Iowa State Penitentiary after discovering problems in the heating and cooling system in its $132 million replacement.

The department said Tuesday that recent testing of the geothermal system at the newly-built prison in Fort Madison has found that it cannot provide the heating and cooling necessary for Iowa's summer heat and winter chill.

Department spokesman Fred Scaletta said authorities once planned to transfer 550 maximum-security inmates in March, but earlier delays caused the date to be pushed back to early summer. Now he says the plans are up in the air because it's not clear how long it'll take to fix the geothermal system.

The Iowa State Penitentiary is the oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi River.

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