New home for Fort Madison inmates

An example of cells in the new Ft. Madison prison.

Wednesday marked a very important day for Fort Madison and Southeast Iowa.

More than one hundred people gathered to celebrate the opening of the

new state penitentiary


This state of the art facility cost a little more than 130 million to build, and protects hundred of jobs for the area economy.

With the cut of a single red ribbon, the doors of the new Iowa State Penitentiary officially opened.

A large crowd of supporters,community and state leaders attended the event which was about establishing a new vision for the


"This institution is a classic example of that vision and where we intend to go," Warden Nick Ludwick said. "How we intend to refine the work that we do day in and day out with the offenders we're responsible for."

Inside the buildings, each prisoner pod is color coded and can be overseen by camera's mounted into the ceiling and monitors at control desks.

The main doors of each pod are also controlled from a central location by a similar system.

Now that the prison is completed, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad expressed the thoughts of many of those gathered at Wednesday's ceremony.

"It's wonderful to see that the Iowa State Penitentiary will continue to be located here in beautiful Fort Madison Iowa, employing hundreds of local people right in this area," Governor Branstad said.

Each cell has a toilet and sink, a bunk, wall shelves and and a writing table.

Each pod also features a showering area and a concrete yard for the prisoners to use.

Retired Senator Gene Fraise was asked to speak at the special ceremony.

Fraise spent many years working to make this prison a reality and retain the 500 jobs that the prison provides to the community.

"Thank God we got it done," Fraise said. "And when you, the old facility was, you know, we was making it work. But when you think of the safety of the inmates and the employees, this should alleviate a whole lot of those problems."

The facility also has a new geothermal heating and cooling system that will save millions of dollars on energy costs.