Emily Woodbury

A recent report from the Iowa Department of Human Rights indicates the number of inmates in Iowa will increase by four thousand in 10 years. The report looks at the number of people going into prison, how long they are staying, and how many people are released each year.

The Director of Research at the Iowa Department of Corrections, Lettie Prell, says prison officials have seen high numbers like this before.

“We view this forecast as being not set in stone, but as an indication of where we might be going if we don’t examine our current policies and practices."

Justin Valas

The President's order to protect five million undocumented immigrants from deportation has been welcomed by some, condemned by others.

Mobydoux / Wikimedia Commons

Kelley Page saw his e-cigarette store as the new chapter in his life. So it stung that much more when it was taken away because of his past.

Alex Heuer

In Fort Madison, 550 inmates were scheduled to be transferred to a new $132 million state maximum security  prison - that was three months ago.

Ben Stanton

Today we listen back to a show, part of Iowa Public Radio's corrections series last summer, about what it is like to grow old and die in prison.

We hear from an offender who works in a hospice program. He has helped 20 fellow inmates face the end of life behind bars. Host Ben Kieffer also talk with a 74-year-old inmate about growing old. We also tour a hospice room at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville.

Emily Woodbury

When a woman leaves prison she will face many challenges, and to succeed she needs to have the skills to navigate her world and to make good decisions. This hour we talk about a class designed to help incarcerated women do just that.

Emily Woodbury / IPR

Today on Talk of Iowa, we wrap up our corrections series with a conversation on the programs offered to incarcerated offenders. Host Charity Nebbe learns about how these programs are designed for treatment, recovery, rehab, and enrichment. And, she inquires into the effectiveness of these programs towards lowering the recidivism rate.


Jul 29, 2013
Emily Woodbury / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa Public Radio concludes it's summer series on Iowa's corrections system with a look at recidivism. Host Ben Kieffer learns why offenders in rural areas may be at a disadvantage when they leave prison, and also, what factors influence an offender's likelihood to return to prison? 

Emily Woodbury / Iowa Public Radio

Nationally the turnover rate for correctional officers is over 15%. Working in a prison is a stressful and dangerous job, but it can also be rewarding.  Today, Clay Masters speaks with a correctional officer from the Mitchellville Correctional Institute for Women joins the program to discuss what its like to work at a prison.

Also, the union AFSCME claims that the Department of Corrections has insufficient staff numbers running the state’s prison and as a result correctional officers are at risk.  Clay Masters looks into the validity of these claims

Emily Woodbury / IPR

Prison inmates have a lot of time to think. Some offenders take comfort in their faith, for others it’s a time to explore a new belief system. Today on Talk of Iowa: spirituality behind bars.

Host Charity Nebbe finds out what the Department of Corrections does to meet the spiritual needs of inmates, and she listens to stories from those who have worked in Iowa Prisons, including a pastor, a rabbi, an imam, and a Native American spiritual guide. A former offender joins the conversation as well, to speak to her experience finding religion while incarcerated.

One of the oldest records that Iowa still holds will be lost soon. That is when the earliest operating prison west of the Mississippi will he replaced by an all-new Iowa State penitentiary. We explore the history of the Fort Madison prison, with rare audio from WOI-TV, Sky TV and MSNBC.

Ben Stanton

Our corrections series continues by examining what it is like to grow old and die in prison. Hear from an offender who works in a hospice program. He has helped 20 fellow inmates face the end of life behind bars.  Host Ben Kieffer also talk with a 74-year-old inmate about growing old.  You'll also get a tour of a hospice room at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville.  

Emily Woodbury / IPR

When a parent is sent to prison, the lives of his or her children are changed forever. Today on Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion on parents in prison. Maintaining and creating healthy bonds, and breaking the cycle of incarceration.

Scott* / flickr

We continue our series on corrections in Iowa by talking about mandatory minimum sentences. What is the goal of mandatory sentences and how effective are they? What are their legal, social and economic impacts?

In the second half hour, host Ben Kieffer takes a look at Iowa’s special courts – drug courts and mental health courts, for example. We find out how they work differently than conventional courts, the case for how special courts save lives and money, and why several drug courts in the state have closed.

Emily Woodbury / Iowa Public Radio

Probation, parole, work release and other programs are designed to help offenders live as productive members of the community. Host Charity Nebbe continues Iowa Public Radio’s series exploring corrections in Iowa with a look at community corrections from the perspectives of offenders, parole and probation officers and volunteers.

Emily Woodbury / IPR

In the summer of 1974, Rasberry Williams shot and killed a Waterloo man over a $30 gambling debt.  In April, Governor Terry Branstad granted Williams’ request for commutation, making him eligible for parole.  We continue our corrections series by talking about when a life sentence should be reconsidered.  Then, we learn about Skylark, which works with victims of domestic violence on commutation requests, and the Innocence Project of Iowa, which is about to file its first case.

Emily Woodbury

Many severe crimes alter a victim's life forever. People convicted of those crimes might be put behind bars for a very long time or even the rest of their lives.  Join host Charity Nebbe who talks with victims about what they want--and don't want--from the people that committed crimes against them or their family members.  Hear the story of one woman whose daughter was murdered and the personal journey she took getting ready to meet the murderer face-to-face ten years later.

Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

As we continue our series on corrections in Iowa…here's the second half of our report on sex offender treatment and monitoring.  

About 1 in 8 inmates in Iowa's prison system are sex offenders, and many go through treatment while in prison.  But does it work?

Jvstin / Flickr

Why do we have prisons?  Are they for retribution or rehabilitation or protection? Also, what are the strengths and weaknesses of Iowa's corrections system? Sarah McCammon steps in for Ben Kieffer to look at how prisons in Iowa stake up against prisons nationwide. 

Emily Woodbury / IPR

In our society when you break the law you will be punished, but our prison system is supposed to be about more than retribution.  Today on Talk of Iowa, we begin our summer series exploring Iowa’s correctional system with a conversation about the purpose of prison… punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation.

Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

It’s been just over a month since two girls from Dayton, Iowa were abducted near their bus stop - allegedly by a convicted sex offender who’d served nearly two decades in prison.  Authorities say Michael Klunder abducted the girls and committed suicide later that day.

The fact that Klunder was free at all has prompted questions about how sex offenders are evaluated, treated and monitored. 

This story begins a summer series examining Iowa's correctional system.