Prison updates feel like home

The upgraded correctional facility in Ottumwa provides services and programs to inmates.

Walking around the halls it almost feels like home, or maybe a college dorm, and thatâ??s exactly how the Iowa Department of Corrections wants inmates to feel.

Not too long ago many thought the building looked rundown, but it doesn't anymore.

Several people gathered to tour the Ottumwa Residential Correctional Facility Wednesday, including Iowa State Representative Mary Gaskill. Gaskill said it was important to complete this project and get people out of prison.

â??It's a wonderful project and I'm so proud that we have this system in Iowa," Gaskill said. "One of the best in the nation and one sixth in recidivism I mean that's great to have that in Iowa."

Staffers say the laundry facility was a great improvement and everything the offenders need is taken care of, but they do pay to stay at the facility.

"Normal rent is $17 a day," said Gary Peitz, Assistant Director of Iowa's 8th District. "There's a separate laundry fee of $5 a month to use those services."

Peitz, said he had a tough time envisioning what the facility would look like after its face-lift, but now that it's been done he has no words to say what it means to him.

â??Itâ??s almost indescribable," he said. "We were in a pretty small confined areaâ?¦and as you can tell as you go through the facility we have a nice spacious area which really helps us do our job better."

When most inmates leave the facility they are released on parole. Offenders do have to qualify to enter the program and complete certain requirements to leave.

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