Fort Madison Relocation: A "Night and Day" Difference

Aug 14, 2015

Earlier this month, more than 500 of Iowa’s most dangerous offenders were transferred to a new maximum-security prison in Fort Madison.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Bill Petroski of the Des Moines Register about the transfer, the differences in the new and old facilities, and the roughly $175 million cost of the prison, originally estimated at $130 million.

Credit Alex Heuer

In the second half of the show, we listen back to Kieffer's visit to the old penitentiary back in 2012, where he spoke with a long-time counselor of the prison, Rich Barlow, as well as Warden Nick Ludwick. Barlow was on his fourth day at work when he was taken hostage during a prison riot in the 1980s.

“A group of inmates overtook us in our training room and held us hostage for approximately 10 hours during the course of the riot that day," he says.

"It was terrifying. We were threatened with weapons, the inmates had homemade shotguns, they had knives, they had hammers. We had our lives threatened, we were robbed. We were stripped and forced to put on inmate clothes."