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Funding disparity exists between state budget, Department of Corrections and Anamosa State Penitentiary

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 7:52 PM CDT
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ANAMOSA, Iowa (KCRG) - Over the last eight years, a large funding disparity has grown between the state budget, Department of Corrections and the Anamosa State Penitentiary.

The KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team found state funding at the Anamosa State Penitentiary has grown by around 2.7%, even though the estimated total funds available for the state has grown by around 22.7%.

The Department of Corrections budget over the same time period has increased around 9.3%.

On Thursday, our previous i9 investigations found the prison where two staff members were beaten to death by two inmates was over capacity and staffing had decreased dramatically. Multiple experts told KCRG-TV9 that created dangerous conditions for workers inside the prison.

State Senator Todd Taylor, (D) Cedar Rapids, is the Ranking Democrat on the committee that helps determine the department’s funding. He was wearing a badge on his suit for the two staff members killed.

Sen. Taylor said he believes the lack of funding for prison is no accident.

“It’s priorities,” he said. “The correctional facilities have not been a priority in state government. It’s simple”

He said the state needs to fund the department more to hire more staff. He said he believes more staff members will create safer prisons.

Since Tuesday, i9 emailed every Republican on the same committee in both chambers to talk about the disparity. None responded with a statement or offered an interview.

In a written statement, a spokesperson from the Governor’s Office called the death of the two staff members a terrible tragedy and said it proposed $5 Million for more staff in January.

“The recent attack at the Anamosa State Penitentiary that took the lives of two Department of Corrections employees was a terrible tragedy, and a full investigation is underway to ensure justice and accountability,” he said. “In January, Governor Reynolds proposed $5 million in new money for the fiscal year 2022 to fund additional personnel for the Department of Corrections, and she remains committed to working with the legislature to support state institutions and staffing.”

The Department of Corrections requests funds every year from the legislature.

Cord Overton, who is a spokesperson for the department, said it hasn’t specifically asked for more funding from the legislature.

“When past and present leaders of this department have been asked by the legislature if the department could use funding in addition to what is requested to the legislature, the position has consistently been that we appreciate every dollar invested in our agency and mission and would make good use of any additional funding appropriated by the taxpayers to our agency,” he said. “That has not changed.”

However, like all state agencies, the department does give a presentation to their respective budget appropriation subcommittee where data and trends are presented to those with the most influence on agency budgets.

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