Residents React to Fort Madison Prison Delays - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Residents React to Fort Madison Prison Delays

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Plans to transfer hundreds of inmates from the Iowa State Penitentiary, the oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi River, to a newly built prison are postponed again. Officials from the Iowa State Department of Corrections say the $132-million replacement is experiencing heating and cooling issues with the living units and some administrative buildings. Authorities once planned to move in March. Then, they said early summer. Now, they say it's unclear how long it will take to fix the prison's geothermal system. Some Fort Madison residents say that's not good enough.

"As taxpayers, we want to know exactly what's going on because it's our money," said Leah Davis, who works at the ice cream shop right next to the 175-year old prison. "We have a lot of poverty, so we can't really just afford to just dish out millions of dollars for nothing."

She and several other Fort Madison taxpayers say it's time to move forward.

"I'm surprised that it hasn't been opened by now," Mary Woodworth said. "I thought they said it would be."

The Iowa Department of Corrections says they're working on that.

"It wasn't cooling or heating at a level we that we needed to, particularly for extreme temperatures such as very, very cold temperatures or very, very hot temperatures," department spokesman Fred Scaletta said.

Some residents say they're surprised it would take months to get a temperature control problem fixed.

"It shouldn't take a long time," Luann Lozano said. "They were supposed to be prepared, ready to go."

"They've had prisons before without air conditioning," Woodworth said.

"I hope we don't want the prisoners to freeze, but they need to hurry up and get going," Sayyidetta Black said.

Others say the department should take its time.

"I think they probably should get it right before they move prisoners in there," Ryan Privia said. "I think it's the smart thing to do."

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