BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DES MOINES – An offender-based program that has been helped provide services and products to many southeast Iowa governmental agencies, schools and non-profits, is being reviewed by state Department of Corrections officials.
The Iowa Prison Industries program, a 100%-self funding training program for offenders, is under a comprehensive review with most programming halted in the wake of the murder of two staff at Anamosa State Penitentiary March 23.
Two inmates at Anamosa, Michael Dutcher and Thomas Woodard face murder, kidnapping and attempted murder charges based on allegations they struck correctional Officer Robert McFarland and nurse Lorena Schulte in the head with hammers killing both. Investigation revealed the two were able to procure the tools, including a grinder from a maintenance shed on the property.
The two also took Lorie Matthes, another Anamosa employee, hostage and seriously wounded another inmate, McKinley Roby.
After several requests of DOC officials to update the status of the IPI program, DOC spokesperson Cord Overton said Thursday, the program is under review at several locations.
“I can tell you that the future of IPI at several facilities is being closely reviewed at this time,” Overton said. “The highest priority for this department is the security of our staff.”
According to the IPI website, the program provides work training to the men and women incarcerated at Iowa’s state prisons.
“More than 90% of offenders in state prison are scheduled to be released, and our job is to teach them how to get and keep a job once they get out. IPI programs help keep our communities safer because offenders with good job skills are less likely to commit new crimes once they are released. Ex-offenders with good job skills are also an important resource for Iowa employers, contributing to the state’s economic development. IPI is 100% self-funding and receives no government appropriations.”
IPI is also an integral part of the recently launched Homes for Iowa program where offenders at Newton Correctional Facility build homes on site that are then used to supplement housing stock in Iowa communities. Iowa Prison Industries constructs the cabinetry that was installed in the homes.