Branstad opens two new prisons in Iowa

Gov. Terry Branstad is opening two new prisons in Iowa and touting a recent decline in the number of people behind bars.

Branstad is attending a grand opening for the new Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison Wednesday. On Monday, he was at a ribbon-cutting for the new Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville.

The projects cost a combined $217 million and were started under the previous governor. Branstad says the new facilities will be more efficient. He also says the state is making progress in reducing the prison population.

There are currently 8,230 inmates in Iowa prisons. That's down by about 600 people from when Branstad took office in 2011.

Branstad attributed some of the decline to better programs for ex-offenders to prevent their return to prison.