Summer Corrections Series

Iowa Public Radio’s talk shows are examining Iowa’s corrections system for our summer series, which will run through July. 

With help from Iowa Public Radio reporters we’re looking at issues that have been in the news recently, like treatment for Iowa’s sex offenders.  We’ve discussed the purpose of prison, and how our view of that purpose shapes how we run and fund our correctional institutions.  We’ll be examining the perspective of crime victims and their role in the corrections system.  We’ll talk about commutation and clemency in the wake of the Rasberry Williams case. 

We’re also planning shows on the community corrections system and its role in monitoring and treating offenders;  how mandatory minimum sentences have impacted the makeup of Iowa’s prison population;  the increasing incarceration of women and how having parents in prison impacts families;  what it looks like to age and die in prison, and the role God plays in prison;  the various programs that exist to help prisoners through their daily lives, and to help them succeed once they leave prison;  and the difficulty of finding and keeping employment outside prison, and how that impacts recidivism. 

If you have suggestions, or would like to offer your expertise or story for our series, please contact Executive Producer, Katherine Perkins, at kperkins@iowapublicradio.org.

Talk of Iowa
3:39 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Iowa's Prison Programming

Mitchellville inmate plays "Danny Boy" on the piano
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.

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River to River
2:53 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Recidivism

Host Charity Nebbe and Warden Patti Wachtendorf tour the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville.
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? 

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River to River
2:54 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

Staffing Iowa's Prisons

Warden Patti Wachtendorf shows IPR's Charity Nebbe around the Mitchellville Correctional Institute for Women.
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

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Talk of Iowa
11:42 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Spirituality In Iowa Prisons

A shot from inside the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville, IA
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.

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Iowa Archives
5:30 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Days Numbered for Iowa Penitentiary

The Fort Madison prison is older than the state of Iowa
kcrg.com

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.

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River to River
1:09 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Growing Old and Dying in Prison

Iowa Medical and Classification Center at the Oakdale Prison near Coralville.
Ben Stanton / Iowa Public Radio

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.  

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Talk of Iowa
12:53 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Parents In Prison

A sign at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville
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.

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River to River
4:13 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Iowa's Mandatory Minimum Sentencing & Special Courts

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.

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Talk of Iowa
1:35 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Community Corrections in Iowa

When leaving the Mitchellville prison women are furnished with a basic wardrobe that includes two complete outfits, a winter coat, three pairs of underwear, three pairs of socks, a bra, a set of pajamas, a pair of shoes and a purse.
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.

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River to River
3:29 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Commutation, Skylark and the Innocence Project of Iowa

A view from inside the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville.
Credit 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.

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Talk of Iowa
3:24 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Crime Victims' Needs

A prisoner knits an afghan to help pay for restitution to victims.
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.

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Crime, Justice and Public Safety
9:47 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Does sex offender treatment work?

About 150 sex offenders are enrolled in treatment at Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility in eastern Iowa.
Credit 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?

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River to River
3:33 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

The Purpose of Prisons: Where Iowa Fits In

Anamosa State Penitentiary was built in 1898.
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. 

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Talk of Iowa
2:28 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

The Purpose of Iowa's Prisons

The fence bordering the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville
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.

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Crime, Justice and Public Safety
12:00 am
Mon June 24, 2013

Treating Sex Offenders

The sex offender treatment program at the Mt. Pleasant Correctional Facility has room for about 150 inmates.
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.

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