NEWTON, Iowa — Iowa has moved about 800 sex offenders to the Newton Correctional Facility, where they will now be housed.

The Des Moines Register reports (http://dmreg.co/2c7tSYz ) state officials decided to move the sex offender treatment program to the Newton prison because it is more secure than the Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility it was based at before.

The Newton facility uses prison cells while the Mount Pleasant facility has a dormitory-style environment.

Associate Warden Sean Crawford says having a secure facility with cells gives the program options.

“We have that opportunity where if somebody is removed from treatment for a behavioral report or some sort of incident, we can keep them here and work them through a process in order to get them back into treatment,” said Crawford, who oversees sex offender treatment. “At Mount Pleasant, we would have to transfer them to a higher-security facility.”

The Newton prison has 1,264 inmates. The number of sex offenders will be limited to about 800.

The state is nearly done moving sex offenders to Newton, but about 100 remain at Mount Pleasant where they will finish treatment this fall.

Sex offenders are generally required to complete specialized treatment programs before they are freed. As part of participating, inmates must take responsibility for their crimes.

Officials with the union that represents corrections officers say they aren’t aware of any problems that have come with the transfers to Newton.

“In my mind, an inmate is an inmate is an inmate,” said Danny Homan, president of Council 61 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Newton Warden Kris Weitzell said the location of the sex offender program shouldn’t create any new worries about public safety. The medium-security prison is surrounded by fences topped with razor wire, and it is monitored by surveillance cameras and other sensors.

“We continue our main mission, which is to protect the public, the staff and the offenders,” Weitzell said. “We continue to follow all of our security protocols.”


Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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