State budget cuts may impact Anamosa State Penitentiary - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

State budget cuts may impact Anamosa State Penitentiary

ANAMOSA (KWWL) - Iowa stands to lose more than 1,300 state jobs to meet Governor Chet Culver's order for a 10 percent budget cut, because of lowered tax revenue. The department of corrections faces the biggest hit, where 515 people would be laid off.

The Department of Corrections has 10 state institutions. Those in our viewing area, Luster Heights in Harper's Ferry, Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility, the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville, and the largest prison in the state, the Anamosa State Penitentiary, which may be hit particularly hard.

It's one of Anamosa's largest employers. Layoffs would impact the city, and pose problems for the penitentiary's remaining staff.

A 10 percent budget cut for the state means a $3.1 million reduction in spending for Anamosa's state penitentiary.

"We value all of our employees, but we also have to deal with the reality of this," said John Fayram, the prison's warden.

Fayram says personnel costs make up 80 percent of the facility's annual budget. The rest are essentials like food, medical services and clothing for inmates, and utility fees. 80 of the penitentiary's 359 workers may be cut. There are also 26 already-vacant positions, which would stay empty.

Fayram says that would significantly impact day-to-day operations.

"The numbers of eyes and ears that we have in here, the number of people that are involved in direct supervision of the offenders, the number of people who do preventative things such as searches of cells and people," explained Fayram.

Mayor John Hatcher says jobs lost at the penitentiary would also mean money lost for the city.

"There's going to be one or two of them who will quit buying and shopping in Anamosa, eating in Anamosa, or participating in our programs."

But he and Fayram say the penitentiary is up the challenge of following their mission, no matter how deep the cuts may go.

"Number one is protecting the public, our staff and the offenders, and preparing the offenders for re-entry into the community," Fayram told us.

Plans for cuts must be finalized by October 28th. Wednesday's announcement doesn't include the Board of Regents, the courts, or statewide elected officials, but they also are covered by the cuts.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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