Inmate Lookup Free Nationwide Inmate Search Logo


how many prisons are in iowa

16 Jun 2023, Prisons, by

Discover the number of prisons in Iowa with our comprehensive guide. Learn about the different types of prisons, their locations, and their capacities.

how many prisons are in iowa - Inmate Lookup

Iowa’s prison system plays a significant role in the state’s criminal justice system. From maximum security prisons to private correctional facilities to juvenile detention centers, Iowa has a range of prison types serving various functions. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the state’s prison system, its history, current population, and the challenges it presents to inmates and staff members alike.

Iowa’s prison system: an overview

Currently, Iowa has nine correctional facilities under the Department of Corrections authority, which includes prisons, detention centers, and specialized facilities. These facilities house over 8,000 inmates in total, as of latest statistics. The correctional facilities are part of Iowa’s three-tiered system that comprises of the Iowa Department of Corrections, the Board of Parole, and the Community-Based Corrections system. The primary goal of the correctional facilities is to provide rehabilitation and reentry programs that prepare inmates for reintroduction into society, while also ensuring public safety.

One of the specialized facilities within Iowa’s prison system is the Iowa Medical and Classification Center (IMCC), which is located in Coralville. The IMCC is responsible for providing medical and mental health care to inmates, as well as conducting assessments to determine the appropriate level of custody and security for each inmate. The facility also has specialized units for inmates with disabilities and those who require long-term medical care. The IMCC plays a crucial role in ensuring that inmates receive the necessary medical attention and care, while also maintaining a safe and secure environment for both staff and inmates.

History of prisons in Iowa

The history of Iowa’s prison system can be traced back to the early nineteenth century. The earliest penitentiary was established in Fort Madison, where prisoners were subjected to strict and brutal punishment. Over the decades, Iowa’s prison system has undergone significant reforms, and today it is recognized as one of the most progressive and innovative in the country.

One of the most notable reforms in Iowa’s prison system was the implementation of restorative justice programs. These programs aim to repair the harm caused by criminal behavior and promote rehabilitation and reintegration into society. In addition, Iowa has also implemented educational and vocational training programs for inmates, which have been shown to reduce recidivism rates and increase employment opportunities upon release. These progressive measures have made Iowa’s prison system a model for other states to follow.

Iowa’s prison population statistics

As of latest statistics available, Iowa’s prison population stands at 8,097. The majority of the inmates are male (86.4%), and the median age of the inmates is 37 years old. The racial breakdown of the inmate population is as follows: 66.5% white, 20.7% black, and 7.5% Hispanic. The average sentence length in Iowa’s prisons is about six years.

It is worth noting that Iowa’s prison population has been steadily decreasing over the past few years. In 2018, the population was at 8,576, which means there has been a decrease of about 5.5% in just two years. This decrease can be attributed to various factors, including changes in sentencing laws and increased focus on rehabilitation programs for inmates.

Iowa’s different types of prisons

Iowa has several types of prisons, including maximum security prisons, women’s prisons, and juvenile detention centers. Some of the popular types of prisons include Ft. Dodge Correctional Facility, Anamosa State Penitentiary, and Iowa State Penitentiary. Additionally, Iowa has a few private prisons, such the Newton Correctional Facility, which was designed to serve as a therapeutic, mental health-focused facility.

It is important to note that Iowa has been working towards reducing its prison population and implementing alternative forms of punishment. In recent years, the state has increased funding for community-based programs and diversion programs, such as drug courts and mental health courts. These programs aim to address the root causes of criminal behavior and provide individuals with the support they need to successfully reintegrate into society.

Maximum security prisons in Iowa

Maximum security prisons are Iowa’s most secure correctional facilities. They house inmates who are deemed the most dangerous and pose a significant risk to society. These facilities have the highest level of security, constituting multiple levels of walls and checkpoints. In Iowa, some of the maximum security prisons include the Iowa State Penitentiary and the Anamosa State Penitentiary.

In addition to their high level of security, maximum security prisons in Iowa also offer specialized programs and services for inmates. These programs aim to help inmates develop skills and behaviors that will reduce their risk of reoffending upon release. Some of these programs include vocational training, educational classes, and counseling services.

Despite the high level of security and programs offered, maximum security prisons in Iowa have faced criticism for their conditions and treatment of inmates. In recent years, there have been reports of overcrowding, understaffing, and inadequate medical care. Advocates for prison reform have called for changes to be made to improve the living conditions and treatment of inmates in these facilities.

Women’s prisons in Iowa

There are two women’s prisons in Iowa: the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women (ICIW) and the Mitchellville Women’s Correctional Facility. ICIW is the larger of the two and houses around 800 female inmates. The facilities have specialized programming geared toward preparing female prisoners for their reentry into society.

Both ICIW and Mitchellville Women’s Correctional Facility offer educational and vocational training programs to help inmates gain skills and knowledge that can be useful in finding employment after their release. Additionally, the facilities provide mental health and substance abuse treatment services to address the underlying issues that may have contributed to their incarceration. The goal of these programs is to reduce recidivism rates and help women successfully reintegrate into their communities.

Juvenile detention centers in Iowa

In Iowa, juveniles who are charged with a criminal offense are typically sent to a juvenile detention center, rather than being tried as adults. Iowa has several state-run specialized facilities for delinquent youths who are in need of rehabilitative services, which provide a more structured environment and offer a range of interventions.

One of the main goals of these juvenile detention centers is to provide education and vocational training to the youths, in order to prepare them for a successful re-entry into society. The facilities offer a variety of educational programs, including high school equivalency courses, vocational training in fields such as carpentry and welding, and even college courses in some cases.

Additionally, the staff at these facilities work closely with the youths to address any underlying issues that may have contributed to their delinquent behavior, such as substance abuse or mental health issues. Counseling and therapy services are often provided, as well as opportunities for the youths to participate in group therapy sessions and support groups.

Private prisons in Iowa

Iowa has a few privately run correctional facilities that are contracted by the state to provide inmate housing. One such facility is the Newton Correctional Facility, which has a therapeutic, mental health focus to its program. Private prisons have been a controversial issue in the United States, with critics raising concerns over the lack of transparency, lower wages paid to staff, and quality of services.

Despite the controversy surrounding private prisons, some argue that they can provide cost savings to the state. However, a study by the Iowa Department of Corrections found that the cost per inmate at the Newton Correctional Facility was actually higher than at state-run facilities. Additionally, there have been instances of misconduct and abuse at privately run prisons in Iowa and across the country, further fueling the debate over their use.

The impact of incarceration on Iowa’s economy

The large number of prisons and correctional facilities in Iowa has a significant impact on the state’s economy. The prison system employs thousands of staff members, and the state spends a substantial amount of funding to maintain the system each year. Additionally, the rehab and workforce training programs offered to inmates can help reduce recidivism rates, and thus decrease the long-term economic impact of incarceration in the state.

However, the high rate of incarceration in Iowa also has negative economic consequences. Incarceration can lead to a decrease in workforce participation, as individuals with criminal records may struggle to find employment after release. This can result in a loss of potential tax revenue and increased reliance on government assistance programs.

Furthermore, the cost of incarceration extends beyond the state budget. Families of incarcerated individuals may experience financial strain due to lost income and expenses related to maintaining contact with their loved ones. This can have a ripple effect on local economies, as businesses may see a decrease in customers and revenue from affected families.

The cost of running a prison in Iowa

The cost of running a prison in Iowa varies based on a variety of factors, including the type of facility, the number of inmates, and the staff to inmate ratio. Generally, the annual cost of running Iowa’s correctional facilities ranges from $20,000 to $35,000 per inmate. Maintaining the state’s prisons is one of the government’s largest expenditures, and thus finding ways to reduce the cost of incarceration has been a pressing issue in Iowa.

One way that Iowa has attempted to reduce the cost of running its prisons is by implementing alternative sentencing programs. These programs allow non-violent offenders to serve their sentences outside of traditional correctional facilities, such as through community service or electronic monitoring. By diverting these offenders from prison, the state is able to save money on housing and staffing costs.

Another factor that can impact the cost of running a prison in Iowa is healthcare expenses. Inmates often require medical attention, and the cost of providing healthcare services can be significant. To address this issue, Iowa has implemented telemedicine programs, which allow inmates to receive medical care remotely. This not only reduces the cost of healthcare, but also improves access to medical services for inmates who may be located in remote areas.

Alternatives to prison: community supervision and rehabilitation programs in Iowa

While prison is intended to be a corrective measure, alternative forms of punishment, such as community supervision and rehabilitation programs, can help reduce recidivism rates and the burden on the state’s correctional system. Iowa has several programs aimed at providing offenders with community supervision, as well as rehabilitating them back into society. These programs are less costly to the state and allow individuals to maintain their employment and family ties while simultaneously serving their sentences.

One such program is the Iowa Department of Corrections’ Community Based Corrections (CBC) program, which provides community supervision and support services to offenders. The program aims to reduce recidivism rates by addressing the underlying issues that led to the offender’s criminal behavior, such as substance abuse or mental health problems. The CBC program also offers job training and placement services to help offenders find employment and become self-sufficient.

In addition to community supervision programs, Iowa also has several rehabilitation programs aimed at helping offenders successfully reintegrate into society. The Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) program, for example, provides intensive substance abuse treatment and counseling to offenders. The program has been successful in reducing recidivism rates among participants and has saved the state millions of dollars in correctional costs.

Challenges faced by inmates and staff in Iowa’s prisons

Inmates and staff members alike face a range of challenges in Iowa’s correctional facilities, including issues with mental health and overcrowding. The state’s prison system has suffered from funding shortages, resulting in some facilities being overcrowded, understaffed, and unable to provide adequate medical and mental health care. Additionally, the lack of programs to address inmates’ mental health concerns often perpetuates the revolving door of recidivism.

Recidivism rates in Iowa’s prisons

Recidivism is a significant challenge facing Iowa’s prison system. Recidivism rates in Iowa are around 30%, indicating the need for the development of more effective rehabilitation programs and community reentry support services. To reduce recidivism rates, Iowa has been looking for innovative solutions to help inmates to successfully reintegrate into society upon their release from prison.

The future of prisons in Iowa: trends and reforms

The future of Iowa’s prison system lies in implementing innovative solutions to improve inmate rehabilitation and reentry. There has been a shift toward the development of community-based programs that focus on treating the root causes of crime, such as mental health and substance abuse. Additionally, implementing technological solutions, such as electronic monitor devices, has been proposed as a way to ensure public safety while reducing the burden on correctional facilities.


In summary, Iowa’s prison system is a complex and significant component of the state’s criminal justice system. While it has undergone significant reforms in recent years, there remains several challenges that need to be addressed. By prioritizing inmate rehabilitation and ensuring adequate funding for the prison system, Iowa can improve public safety and reduce the long-term economic and social costs of incarceration.