ANAMOSA, Iowa — The Iowa Department of Corrections opened the State Penitentiary here on Wednesday for a tour for officials and members of the media. The occasion was a round table sponsored by Governor Kim Reynolds on apprenticeships, and returning offenders to the workforce, when released from incarceration.
Here at Anamosa State Penitentiary we house just under 1000 incarcerated individuals here,” said Jeremy Larson, the Warden of the facility. “Most of those individuals are maximum-security some medium security,. Some get access to work outside the walls.
The tour walked through the prison gates. The tour walked path giant stone walls built back in the 1880’s Barbed wire is mounted half way up the wall and at the top, along with guard towers and security cameras.
To the back side of the prison complex is a large building constructed in recent years, which houses eight shops where some 200 inmates produce products for Iowa Prison Industries. One shop makes license plates, and they were caught by surprise when Iowa’s Black-out Plates caught on.
“We didn’t expect it to be as popular as it was,” said inmate Jordan Dawson. “Once we got it under control we got a system down so now we have like a specific time that we only do black out plates.”
“Ninety some percent of these guys are going to get out and return to the community,” said Lawson. “So our goal is to give them the skills and the things that they need to be successful when they get out we don’t want them to come back.”
The shops also produced soap, air filters, metal products, stop signs and other signs for the Iowa DOT.
While some 200 inmates have jobs, from,58 cents and hour to $1.92 an hour, not all inmates here have jobs, there just are not enough to go around. But those who dowry appreciate what they have.
“It makes us all feel like we are part of a team“ said Dawson. “We all have goals that we set for ourselves as well as goals set that our customers set for us.”
This inmate knows his work is impacting the state of Iowa.
“Well first of all take to say thank you for your business,” said Dawson. “We hope that you guys appreciate the work that we put in.”