The following is taken from many sources, but
most is from the Warden's reports to the Commisioners or the
Board in Control of Institutions, depending on the year.
1868 - State Prison Visiting Committee reports Fort Madison is
no longer large enough to handle Iowa prison needs.
1870 - Governor Samuel Merrill recommended a new penitentiary
in Northern Iowa. Sen. John McKean seeks the selection of
1872 - April: The 14th General Assembly approves
"additional penitentiary" at Anamosa. A commission
meets at Anamosa to select the site and tours possible quarry
locations. The blueprints are approved, and construction started
on wooden stockade, temporary buildings and a small cellhouse.
1873 - In April work starts at the quarry, using hired help.
Acting Warden Martin Heisey asks for 40 able bodied men from Ft.
Madison. On May 13 twenty inmates were transferred from Fort
Madison, only 16 able to do a day's work. Twelve were assigned to
the quarry, the rest in the prison yard grading the ground. By
September work started on the first large building. On June 2nd
three inmates escaped from the quarry.
1874 - Started construction of first cellhouse on 5/8/1874, it
was under roof by 1/1/1875, and was 50ft by 120ft. It was two
stories high, with a basement. It contained 72 cells, each
constructed of 6 inch flagstone, each stone securely dovetailed
together. The cells measured four feet, 6 inches wide, seven feet
six inches in height, and eight feet in length. The steel doors
had been purchased in 1872, and were later moved to the south
cellhouse, the first large cellhouse, which was finished in 1881.
At that time, the 72 cells were apparently removed, and the
building continued to be used for the kitchen, dining hall,
library, chapel, storage, and offices. The building burned in the
1896 fire, and was later rebuilt as the power plant and
1875 - The Second Biennial Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Additional Penitentiary, dated November 1, 1875, noted that there were funds remaining after the construction of the first cellhouse, so work on the south wall was commenced on May 13, 1875. The report further noted that 712 car loads of stone had been shipped from the quarry, about half of which was sold to private individuals. The General Assembly had made no provision for a physician, a deputy warden, a chaplain or a teacher. A local physician was hired, with the understanding that there was no method to pay him, and funds were requested to pay that account. A guard was appointed deputy warden, to act on behalf of the warden in his absence. It was recommended "...he receive recompense for this extra duty."
The warden's report noted the difficulty in obtaining fresh
vegetables, so 5 acres of land within the prison yard were put
under cultivation, with Mr. Kinsey, the clerk, supervising the
operation. Over 1,000 bushals of potatoes, as well as tomatoes,
onions, string beans, beets, turnips, and other vegetables were
1877 - The foundation for the new cellhouse (the south
cellhouse) was under construction.
1879 - In January, ten inmates break out of the stone shed and
rush the west railroad gate, eight passing through to the
outside. Four are shot, one fatally, in the first killing at the
1880 - The report to the Joint Committee indicates work on the
new cellhouse progressing rapidly.
1881 - The 3rd Biennial Report notes that the south cellhouse was completed and opened on 2/19/1881 and describes it as "..one of the very best cellhouses in the United States."
William Foster, architect, noted that the wooden stockade was seven years old and needed replacement. He recommended completion of the center rotunda and guard halls, front wall of the north cellhouse, and the center and rear building for the new kitchen, dining room, laundry, chapel, hospital and library.
1882 - Electric lights first used in December.
1883 - The annual report notes unexpected expense in making
the foundation for the wall in the northwest corner due to
quicksand. Twenty foot pilings were required indefinitely until
solid ground was reached. Also, 160 more electric lights were
needed, one for each cell. On 6/30/83 the count was 239.
1884 - Name changed from "Additional Penitentiary"
to "State Penitentiary"
1885 - On 6/30/85 the count was 281.
1886 - Four inmates attempt to escape from an unfinished gate,
three are shot, two fatally, and all are captured within the
The warden, A. E. Martin, was paid $166.67 per month, with
officers paid $50 per month. The count was 282 male, 13 female.
1887 - C. W. "Nosey" Williams was shot by tower
guard Martin McCarty while threatening the deputy warden with a
knife inside prison yard.
1889 - The Insane Ward building was completed to house both
women and the mentally ill, located adjacent to the south of
prison yard. The female building foundation is completed, and
stone is being cut for the 1st floor.
1890 - Wesley Elkins, age 11 (4ft 7in tall) arrives to serve
1891 - Three inmates fall to their death during the
construction of the new Female Department. Located south of the
main yard, the building was enclosed the following year, but it
was not finished until December of 1900.
1892 - Ground was broken in 1892 for the "center
building" which was to connect the north (yet to be built)
and south cellhouses, and was to extend outside of the walls to
contain the entrance and administration offices as well as the
warden's residence. The Governor and Executive council authorized
the architect to change the plans from wood finish to fire proof
construction. Warden P.W. Madden assumed duties April 1, 1892.
1895 - The 12th Biennial Report notes that during the summer
of 1895 the walls were completed for the "Warden's
house" (administration building?) as well as the center
building, except for towers and turrets.
1896 - Fire destroys main building that houses the kitchen,
dining hall, library, chapel, and offices. Food prepared outside
in large vats. The current dining hall/auditorium/chapel building
(the "center building") was near completion at the time
of the fire.
1897 - The warden's Biennial Report notes that a 2,011 ft.
well was sunk and was tested at 15,000 gallons of water for 15
hours. Chemically tested, the water proved to be excellent. A
tower was erected 50 ft. high and a tank built upon it that holds
45,000 gallons. The water mains and supply pipes are complete.
The monetary loss of the fire of 1896 was determined to be
$13,000. Seventy-five men were working at the quarry, and a total
of 413 cars of dimension and foundation stone had been delivered
to the prison. The new chapel was dedicated on Sunday, August 29,
1898 - Warden Hunter assumed duties on April 1, 1898. He established a grading system for the inmates, allowing more privileges based on meritorious behavior. He also divided the prison into departments with responsible department heads. A search was conducted of the cellhouses and a dozen wagon-loads of grind stones, saws, chisels, files, vises, anvils, shells and hammers were removed. Watches, jewelry, and $800 cash was also found.
Each cell in solitary was provided with 5 rings fastened to the walls, in differing height, and the custom had been to hand-cuff the prisoner to the rings. The warden reported that since his arrival not one prisoner had been tied to the rings, a system of a dark cell with bread and water had been sufficient.
On April 11, 1898 two inmates escaped from the quarry. On 6/30/98 the inmate count was 625.
By July 1, 1898, the administration building had been erected to a height of 56 ft. The foundation of the north cellhouse was under construction, and a hanging stone stair, leading from the center hall of the guard hall to the guard's bedrooms in the 2nd floor, was completed.
On May 27th, a large derrick fell in use at the north cellhouse, killing one inmate and injuring 3 others.
There were 25 armed guards at this time, 11 were on the walls
and stockade, and 9 were at the quarry. Twice weekly target
practice was established, and marksmanship improved dramatically.
1899 - The warden's report indicates that approximately one half of the institution is completed. The count was 529, which included 14 women. The ruins of the old dining hall has been converted into a boiler room and power house, a new smoke tunnel was built leading to the smokestack. Also a tunnel leading from the power house and connecting with the old tunnel of the north cell house and extending north under the connecting wing and connecting with the tunnel leading from the administration building was constructed.
A system of identification by issuing a card to each inmate with his measurements has been established. This system is employed in the institution and is referred to as the Bertillion system.
The guards hall or rotunda joins the administration building on the rear and is now completed. This hall is roofed with slate and copper. The cupola for the purpose of lighting the rotunda is built of steel and is 20 ft. above the roof. This building contains 4 large galleries, rising one above the other, floored with large flag stones. A large stone fountain, 12 ft. high, has been cut for the 1st floor.
The south wing of the central building is 32'X80' and is 3 stories high. The basement is used as a bathroom and is equipped with 30 showers with hot water mixing tanks. The main floor is in use as a tailor shop and shoe repair. The 2nd floor is intended for a hospital building, with a projecting west wing which will include a dispensary, operating room, nurse's quarters and closets. Immediately underneath the west wing are 14 new solitary cells with an office for the guard, completed except for outer steel doors on each cell.
Stone stairs leading to the chapel on either side of the dining hall were completed. The library is on the second floor, in the north wing. It had only old books that had been donated after the fire, but 4500 volumes were purchased.
The old boiler room has been dismantled, a second story added and a new roof put on, raising it to the height of the rest of the building. The second floor is used as a laundry. The old laundry adjoining the new addition is now a plumbing and pipe room and the main floor as a machine shop.
The old dynamo room, immediately west of the laundry is now used as the receiving and discharge office. The new story added to this building is the carpenter and paint shop.
The Female wing was enclosed and roofed but never finished inside under Warden Barr. Since that time the floors have been finished, 6 flights of stairs completed, all that is left to do is the iron work for the cells and the plumbing and wiring. Storerooms were established on the first floor.
In January, a training school for the guards was established
and instructed by the warden. Free discussions were encouraged
and the exchange of views was found very beneficial.
1900 - On January 1, 1900, a contract with the American Cooperage Co. of Anamosa employs 20 to 25 men in the manufacture of butter tubs. This is the first contract for convict labor in Anamosa. This factory with 25 men is turning out 600 to 1,000 tubs per day.
By February the new grading system was in full force and
characterized by better fare for successive grades in the dining
hall, and the wearing of a gray suit instead of the stripes used
in the lower grades.
1901 - The warden's 1900-1901 biennial report noted the following:
The administration building and warden's residence are almost completed. The rotunda and connecting corridor are complete. The stone stairs and railings in the Administration Building was procured from the northwest part of Jackson County, 30 miles from Anamosa near the Emiline post office. This stone has a handsome grain and is susceptible to a polish, equal to Vermont or Tennessee marble. The stone from our quarries was unsuitable for this purpose. The stone for the stairways was quarried and delivered at a cost of $215.00. These stairs are known as the hanging or self supporting stairs.
The polishing and cutting of rough marble for the floors of the administration building was begun in August of 1899. Four kinds of marble are used for this purpose. The marble is scrap and purchased out of Chicago for $80 a car.
The main hall of the administration building required 60% of the first car at a cost of $48. The wood for the administration building is out of our planing mill. The first floor is finished in golden oak. The 2nd floor is finished in mahogany and light oak. The living rooms have polished oak floors. The 3rd floor is finished in light oak. The fourth floor is finished in hard pine. The basement is finished in pine with a tile floor.
The female building was completed December 20, 1900. It contains hot and cold water, laundry, bath rooms, steam heat, electric lights. A new pump house has been completed. A hog house was built in 1900. It is 100' long, 23' wide with a feed yard 12' wide and a stone wall enclosing it. It runs along the entire east side.
The chapel seats almost 800 and is frescoed in water colors at a cost of $10.
Old shacks in the yard have been removed, the yard graded and part of it laid off into flower beds and flowers planted along walks and borders. A large fountain has been erected in the south court with stone bordered flower beds around it. A new green house 25' x 40' was erected last fall.
The warden discovered, in 1889, that 43 men were unable to read or write. By 1900 a prison school was established. It is now thoroughly organized and part of the work of the institution. At first there was opposition but now it is recognized as a helpful feature. The average enrollment for this period is 172 and the average class is 51. The sessions are held at night between 6:45 and 8:15. Classes taught are U.S. History, physiology, grammar, algebra, geometry and civics. Higher courses are taught to those desiring.
The quarry is 1 3/4 miles NW of the institution and connected by a spur of the Northwestern RR. Prisoners are conveyed to the quarry by a train of handcars accompanied by armed guards. The rock is limestone known as upper Niagara belonging to the Silurian system of rock. It is a soft, yellow dolomite and very evenly bedded.
An usher has been hired to escort visitors through the institution at a rate of 17 per day. The usher is also the mail carrier and is in charge of the greenhouse and lawns in front of the prison.
Of the 60 acres belonging to the state, 22 acres are planted in vegetables. At the quarry is an additional 24 acres of vegetables. From 8 to 15 men work the fields and are as far away as a mile from any guard.
In addition to the holidays, entertainers and musicals as well as Sunday services. The Flower mission service of the W.C.T.U. is held each year, under the auspices of Mrs. Hinman of Wright Co. Each prisoner is presented with a small bouquet and a message of good wishes.
At present an inmate has been trained in the art of photography and 1,200 pictures have been taken at a cost of 10 cents each.
At present waste classified as wool, leather, rags, sewer
grease, paper, rope, and bones is bound and sold to the public.
1902/1903 - The warden's report for these years notes the following:
It is suggested that the institution based on its young offenders should be called a reformatory, instead of a penitentiary.
December 20, 1901 - the old stockade which for years had enclosed the Administration building was removed, and on Dec. 26th, the warden and clerk moved into their new offices from temporary quarters in the female building. On Feb. 1, 1903 the residence quarters for the warden began occupancy in the administration building.
The female department began occupancy February, 1902. In front of the building on the inside is a large court of walks, fountains and flowers. By August 1, 1901 the arched ceiling of the south cell house was replaced with a plastered ceiling on metal lathe for better air circulation and less weight on the walls.
A system for invoicing all items needed was begun to reduce the amount of waste. A storeroom has been established and the head of the storeroom is charged with the non-reckless use of supplies issued to all departments. Daily requisition are retained for 1 week and then forwarded to the Board of Control.
A 2-story stone barn 60' X 30' has been completed on the farm. Total outlay of cash for materials was $150.
A few cows supply milk for the hospital and female deportments. Eventually enough cow will be added to supply the entire institution with milk. The farm is equipped with a modern hog house built of stone 100' x 24'. At present 136 head of hogs are confined with 18 ready to butcher.
At 12:30 AM, March 26, 1902, the building housing the butter tubs burnt to the ground. The state has built a new stone shop for the cooperage. The building is 100' long and 50' wide and 2 stories high. In addition is a powerhouse making a total frontage of 200'.
A bridge was constructed to the quarry during this period. The bridge is wooden truss 60' long and spans the river 38' above the water.
In the clerk's office is a large safe procured from the capitol in Des Moines. It originally was in the old Stone Capitol building in Iowa City in 1855. When being transported to Des Moines while attempting the crossing of the Skunk river, the oxen got stuck in the mud and the safe was left on the river bottom for several months, its contents intact. Eventually it was removed and used in Des Moines by a state official named Isaac Brandt until it was brought to Anamosa.
The yard has been laid out into parks, lawns and flower beds.
250 trees have been planted along drive ways and walks.
Carter McComsey #4710 died July 8,, 1902 - Self inflicted gun shot wound.
Christina Behrens #3881 died June 13, 1903 - Death suicide by hanging.
1904 - Shop #2 constructed, to be used as a tin shop and
cooper shop. The plans included 15 inmates making corn cob pipes
under contract with the American Cooperage Company.
1904/1905 - The warden's biennial report notes the following:
The roof for North House installed, stone floor in position and cells are ready to be installed. A cold storage building has been erected, also a hot house, blacksmith shop and a kitchen and dining room have been erected at the quarry. The bridge was damaged by a flood and was repaired.
Much stone has been quarried, cut and shipped to Fort Madison
for their new hospital building, to Eldora for a new store house,
and to Marshalltown for a new gate way and gate house.
1906/1907 - The warden's biennial report notes the following:
Chapter 192 of it's acts of the last General Assembly
converted the State Penitentiary at Anamosa into a Reformatory
for young men under 30 years of age who have not yet been
convicted of certain grave offenses and had no previous felonies.
Work on North House is proceeding slowly, as few men are
available for it. A considerable amount of plumbing is done and
some of the interior finishing is completed. The powerplant has
been enlarged with the addition of a foundry and blacksmith shop.
The act establishing the Reformatory took effect July 4, 1907.
Numerous items of presses and machinery have made the printing
and binding shop complete. A tinner's department is being planned
and tin, copper and sheet iron work will begin. A large number of
men are being trained in stone cutting, cooking, baking, laundry,
cobbling, tailoring, carpentry, blacksmithing, plumbing,
electrical and operation of machinery.
1908/1909 - The warden's biennial report notes the following:
Two new tubular boilers each having a capacity of 125
horsepower have been purchased at a cost of $1,000 and have been
installed. The printing and binding department is finished and is
doing a large volume of work. The North House is substantially
completed and will be occupied in a few weeks.
1910/1911 - The warden's biennial report notes the following:
A room has been added to the school at a cost of $1,503.31.
The addition is 52' 4" by 28'6". Additional equipment
has been ordered for the printing and binding department. A
department is being established to manufacture shirts and other
garments in the women's department. More appropriations are
requested to expand the Industries Shops.
1912/1913 - The following is from the Warden's biennial report:
The salaries of the wardens at the Reformatory and Penitentiary are fixed at $210 per month. In addition each warden is allowed a furnished house, water, heat, ice and light and the labor of domestic prisoner service not to exceed 3 at one time. There is growing opposition to the letting of labor of prisoners to contractors in the state. During the summer of 1913, a camp of prisoners from the Reformatory prepared foundations for buildings, laid water mains and other general work at the Iowa State College in Ames. These men camped out in tents without guards of any kind. This experiment was a success from every standpoint. The work was above average and good health and fresh air was enjoyed by all.
The Reformatory has become one of the most important in the state. The board has abolished contract labor. July 1, 1914 the last contract: American Cooperage Company, was purchased by the Reformatory and butter tubs will continue to be made. The quarry operation has all but been discontinued. The state is losing money in its operation. The rock is too soft and does not meet requirement for general construction.
The 35th General Assembly appropriated $4,000 for a new Deputy
Warden's house. The building is finished and is now occupied.
Actual cost was $3,370.20. The remaining $629.80 will be used for
walks, steam, water and sewer connections. 120 acres of land is
being rented for $6.00 per acre. This land is being farmed and
fine crops will be realized.
1914 - Prison graveyard was moved from the initial location
near the Buffalo River to its present location due to needed
space for the farming operation. Thirty five bodies were moved.
1914/1915 - From the warden's biennial report:
Seventy seven acres of quarry land in Lyon County with its deposit of granite will require the services of 100 men and supply a long demand for crushed rock for road building.
A large number of men from both Fort Madison and the Reformatory have been employed at work on roads adjacent to state lands and also at building operations at various state institutions.
A new ice house and stone horse barn have been completed. The sum of $23,758.35 has been expended for the purchase of land adjacent to the institution. $61,079.39 has been appropriated to maintain Industries. $100,000.00 is needed to put the operation in Lyon county into production and another $35,000 is needed for a railroad line.
During 1915, 200 acres of which 36 acres is underlaid with an
extensive deposit of granite was purchased by the Board of
Control with the intention of opening a camp supplied by inmates
from the Anamosa Reformatory. The quarry was found to be
impractical because of the expense involved to purchase a
crushing plant, a railroad spur, etc. The portion of this farm
devoted to the growing of crops will be done for one year. This
was also found to be impractical because of the farm's great
distance from the Reformatory. It is recommended that the Granite
Farm be sold and reinvested in land closer to the Reformatory.
1916/1917 - From the warden's biennial report:
A camp of prisoners from the Reformatory was used at the new Women's Reformatory in Rockwell City in farm work and grading but this proved to be unsatisfactory.
It is imperative that the legislature upgrade the salaries of
some employees. The reduction in payroll at the two penal
institutions was done with a considerable price and pleasure. The
reductions amounts to approximately $30,000. This reduction was
brought about by a reduction in staff, not wages. However some
employees have not had salary increases and at present we are
unable to live on this allowance.
1918/1919 - From the warden's biennial report:
The old dining room has been remodeled which adds greatly to its appearance.
The dairy herd remains to us a source of pride. No state equals Iowa in production. Only Holstein cows are kept. Only the best cows are retained, weeding out the weak and at this time there are 200 pure-bred Holsteins in the state. Milk is cheap, good and contributes to a healthful diet. We wish to thank Iowa State College at Ames for their assistance and advice on our farms, orchards, gardens and dairy herds. We have been able to increase production on all lines.
Proper attention has not been given to the fencing of the
farms. As the war made all fencing material too expensive, this
part of the farm operation has been delayed, but in the future
all of the state farms will be fenced hog tight.
1921/1922 - From the warden's biennial report:
An appropriation of $52,000 was made by the 39th General Assembly for the purchases of 260 acres of land east of the Men's Reformatory. This land had been leased by the Reformatory for several years. $8,000 was spent for machinery, storage house, hog house, slaughter house and 2 silos. New tile floors and wainscoting were placed in the kitchen and rotunda at a cost of $3,000
New Palmer forced draft burners were placed under 5 of the boilers in use along with 2 new stokers, at a cost of $10,3000. This allowed coal consumption to be reduced by 1/4. The Reformatory uses approximately 9,000 tons of coal per year.
Many creameries are now putting their butter in paper cartons
which has greatly reduced the demand for tubs reducing the amount
of work in the cooperage factory.
1923/1924 - From the warden's biennial report:
The major portion of expenditures made by the 40th General Assembly other than the general fund were used for needed repairs to buildings and new equipment for the power plant, which includes rewiring of the institution throughout and installing toilets and lavatories in the south cellhouse. Total average number of inmates for the period ending June 30, 1922 was 1,355.
A modern and completely equipped factory for the manufacture of license plates is now being constructed and will be completed in time to manufacture 1926 plates.
A cheese factory has been established. An excellent quality of
cheese is being manufactured and is being furnished to all the
other institutions. The cheese factory produced 62,787 pounds of
cheese during this period which was sold for $20,445.02. The milk
used in the cheese was largely produced by the institution farm.
1925/1926 - From the warden's biennial report:
$5,000 is being asked for a new canning factory, $15,000 for a new dairy barn, and $18,000 for the purchase of farm land. The land recommended for purchase joins the institution on the north and west and could be used extensively in the dairy operation.
A new addition to the furniture shop has just been completed and will increase the capacity 20%.
A considerable quantity of milk is being purchased from area farmers in the vicinity of the institution to supplement the Reformatory milk production in the making of cheese.
A soap industry is being planned for the new factory building erected during this period at a cost of $20,000. The factory should be in operation by January 1, 1927. This industry will employ 15 or 20 men.
In the carpenter and blacksmith shops, a large number of park and lawn benches have been constructed and sold to the conservation and agriculture boards. These items are constructed of steel and wood. We expect to continue making these for the state parks, city parks and state institutions and county homes.
In 1925 and 1926, storms and hail destroyed many acres of the state's crops as well as some of the orchards.
The state farm at Clive, eight miles west of Des Moines comprises 781 acres. It is farmed by 14 to 20 inmates from the Men's Reformatory.
Farm crops are raised along with 60 to 80 cows being milked. 800 head of hogs are raised each year and fattened for market. The net profit from this farm runs $8,000 to $10,000 per year.
A good vein of coal underlies this land and may be developed
for the state's institutions.
1928 - June 30, 1928, the count is 1,073.
1928/1930 - The warden's report covering this period, ending June 30, 1930, notes the following:
The new dairy barn was completed during this period. A new
addition to the administration building was completed, giving two
new rooms. Construction work on the new cellhouse was started
sometime ago. The institution has enough men sleeping in the
corridors of the main cellhouse to fill this building when it is
completed and ready for occupancy.
1930/1932 - The warden's biennial report notes the following information:
Inmate count on 6/30/32 is 1452
The new cellhouse in completed at a cost of $194,495.19. In
1932 the industrial building was destroyed by fire and has been
replaced by a cement block structure erected by inmate labor. The
screw driver industry is discontinued.
1934 - Count was a record 1,489 inmates.
1933/1934 - The warden's biennial report notes the following:
W. H. Frazer was appointed warden of the Men's Reformatory to
succeed C. H. Ireland who passed away June 27, 1933. Mr. Frazer
assumed his duties September 1, 1933. During this period the
apron industry was closed leaving 60 men without employment, and
left 3 empty buildings. As a result attendance in the school was
increased from 20 to 250. Subjects in the schools were increased
from the 6th to the 8th grade and additional subjects taught are
manual training, art, mechanical drawing, book keeping, and
typing. One new industry during this period is the canning
factory. Vegetables will be canned for all the institutions. The
new coal bunkers have been completed.
1935 - The Insane Ward was taken down, and a new hospital
building was started. Construction continued for several years,
and due to a lack of funding was not completed until the 1940's.
1935/1936 - The warden's biennial report to the Board of Control notes the following information:
Due to reorganization of the shops, we have all our inmates
working at some productive labor. The following industries are
currently being operated: license plates, cheese, tailoring,
shop, printing, canning and the quarry industries. The shops are
regulated at 7 hours per day to allow the inmate more sunlight
and additional yard recreation. The ages of the inmates ran from
16 to 80 years old. There has not been a single death during this
1937/1938 - The report to the Board of Control notes the following:
During the past year construction work has been confined to the new hospital building and general repairs to the farms and the institution proper. Work on the hospital has stopped due to lack of funds. So far the shell is done. The basement floor is not completed. There will be needed $125,000 to complete this building and build the other wing not as yet started. Great advancement has been made in the school which will be placed in line with support and industrial shops and run as vocational training shops. A recreational department has been added which will include playground and athletic supervision and training. We have encouraged the inmates to take up hobbies. Special classes such as bakery, meat cutting and butcher school are now running. Under the chief engineer, classes in welding, electricity and machinist are being offered. The kitchen has installed 7 sub-kitchens instead of a main kitchen. Four of these kitchens serve 3 meals per day and 3 serve noon meals only.
During this period, an officers school has been started which meets every Tuesday evening for discussions except May through October. An "Officer's Manual" has been written for employees use and a new rule book for the inmates was placed in use.
Our vegetable production has shown small profits.
Almost all of the building roofs need repairs.
1939/1940 - From the warden's report to the Board of Control:
Foss Davis assumed duties of the warden when William Frazer retired, assuming duties July 1, 1939.
Work has resumed on the wall and hospital.
Every inmate is encouraged to participate in some form of recreational activity. During the summer months, 700 men take an active part on the various baseball teams, and during the fall in football and basketball.
A lot of the machinery in the shops and service areas needs to be replaced. Some of the horses and mules on the farm should be disposed of and replaced with new stock. A lot of the farm machinery is in need of new repairs or replacement. There is a lot of work needed on the cellblock of northhouse and the whole institution needs paint.
The present guard force is not near enough when spread out to
properly man the institution.
1940/1942 - From the warden's report to Board of Control:
Count is 941. There are 60 inmates assigned to camps at 3 different state hospitals and 25 are assigned to our farms, where they work, eat, and sleep.
Built addition to canning factory at a cost of $4,000.00.
Canned goods sold during this biennium amounts to $71,043.19. New
hospital and wall under construction and moving along at a slow
pace. The wall is nearly finished and we will resume work on the
hospital in the near future.
1942/1944 - From the warden's report to the Board of Control:
Count 619 on June 30, 1944. Since moving into our new hospital building, we have cells and dormitories for 1178 inmates. In April 1944, the quarry was closed for the duration of the war.
The soap industry has done well, due in part to contracts
which we had to supply soap powder for the armed forces. We
furnished more soap to the armed forces than any other penel
institution in the United States. The tailoring industry has been
the banner industry, due largely to government contracts.
Contracts for the army, navy, and lend lease have been completed,
and at present we are working on a lend lease contract. The new
hospital was completed and occupied Sept 1, 1943.
1944/1946 - From the warden's report to the Board of Control:
On June 30, 1946 the count was 608. All out camps at other
institutions have been discontinued. The Eldora Annex was started
during this period of time. There was no major construction.
1946/1948 - From the warden's report to the Board of Control:
During war years, we discontinued our school program. This was necessary, for the reason that we had several war contracts which we had to complete in a limited length of time. Our count was on the decrease and we were forced to use every available inmate to produce these contracts. At present we are setting up a new school program.
At the beginning of the present season, we rearranged the baseball diamond, built a grandstand and dugouts ... from the proceeds and profits from the commissary.
The farms were placed 100% in Farm Conservation Program. We will increase the beef heard and continue the vegetable program. Tobacco Industry was discontinued 6/30/47.
Guard and employee situation has continued to be serious. The
security problem at the institution is dangerous at all times. It
is impossible to hire people outside of Anamosa.
1948/1950 - From the warden's report to the Board of Control:
On June 30, 1950, the population was 860. The number of insane patients was reduced from 114 on July 1, 1948 to 70 on June 30, 1950. Work on erecting a new water tower is in progress.
A 1950 pamphlet notes there were 1200 inmates. The following number of shop workers were noted: metal (60), printing (40), soap (40), tailoring, 100, barber (14), carpenter (25), kitchen (150), and cellhouse "lumpers" (orderlies,15 to 20 in each of three cellhouses). Other assignments included office help, powerplant, storeroom, library, laundry, yard gang, farms, floating gang, hospital, houseboys, and the Hawkeye office. In addition, the garage had 1 mechanic and 6 drivers to operate 3 cars and 10 trucks.
In 1950 the inmate Alcoholics Anonymous celebrated its first anniversary.
1950/1952 - Population on June 30, 1952 was 809. The Fire Department consists of a hose cart manned by inmates and one fire truck. During the war years the school programs were discontinued. However, at the present time the school is being re-vamped and will be open shortly.
The farms are being operated under the Farm Conservation Program. Our acres of crops have been reduced, but our herd of cattle has been increased. Building repairs on the farms has been halted temporarily due to lack of funds.
Average profits in Industries has been 10.2%. It is suggested
that the warden's residence in the Administration Building be
moved outside into a separate residence to create more space for
offices and storage.
1952/1954 - Warden - Ray Purcell, appointed June 26, 1953. Average monthly per capita cost - $88.03. Present population 803.
We are now adequately staffed to conduct an elementary school program and hope to expand to include high school subjects in the next biennium. Through the cooperation of the Engineering Extension Service of the Iowa State College, we are educating many of our employees in the teaching of vocational training.
The farms are being repaired on a limited scale due to lack of funds. Some of the farm buildings need to be replaced as they are beyond repair.
The Mental Health Department should be moved to a mental health facility. Iowa is one of the few remaining states that still incarcerates their criminally insane in a penal institution. It is virtually impossible to adequately staff the insane ward with qualified personnel. Dr. C. C. Graves, Director of Mental Institutions examines the insane patients semi-annually and makes recommendations for their care and treatment.
The industries profits were at 8.8%
1954/1956 - Average population - 840. Total farm acreage - 1,536 acres
There are 19 horses and mules, 187 dairy cows, 283 beef cattle, and 545 hogs. Shops include soap, tailor, metal working, print and canning.
We have recently acquired a full time Catholic chaplain. Our
high school program is under way and another vocational training
instructor is requested. Industries net profit is 6.6%
1956/1958 - The school is now accredited and recognized by the Department of Public Instruction. We definitely need funds to replace some of our farm buildings and dwellings which are beyond repair.
If funds are available during the next biennium, we will staff our Mental Health Division with trained personnel.
Industries net profit - 6.02%
1958 - The administrative staff included Ray Purcell, warden; E. V. Hubbard, asssistant warden; Roy Smith, deputy, and Rolland Brown, assistant deputy. Count was 812, listed as 749 white and 63 colored.
By June of 1958 the new power plant was in use. The "floating gang" was composed of 20 men, all 3rd grade, doing "hard labor" jobs, including hauling cinders.
Governer H. Loveless ate in the dining hall during the 8th
annual A. A. Banquet.
1959 - In September the count was 862, 788 in 1st grade, 50 in
2nd grade, 24 in 3rd grade, 87 were insane, and 21 were lifers.
1958/1960 - Pay Purcell, Warden; Roy Smith, Deputy Warden; Lloyd Hoyle Jr, Business Manager. Average population 868.
Utilizing inmate labor exclusively, we have replaced 6 farm buildings during the past year. Industries net profit was 6.5%.
A limited staff of competent, trained personnel has been assigned to the Mental Health Department and has established a modern program of psychiatric treatment which we hope to expand.
The recreational program is financed by profits derived from
the inmate commissary. Although chapel is not compulsory, our
religious training program reaches about 50% of the inmates.
1960/1962 - The secretarial pool should be increased from 4 to 6 persons, thus saving the time of the professional staff now compelled to perform clerical duties in addition to their work.
At the end of this biennium, only 1 part-time doctor and 1 part-time psychiatrist have been available. However, a full-time psychiatrist will be joining the staff July 1, 1963. A full time registered nurse is in charge of the Medical Department.
We now have 2 full time chaplains on staff as well as 1 part time chaplain. During the past year, divinity students from seminaries have been conducting individual and group counseling under the direction of the chaplains.
At present, heavy equipment obtained from government surplus materials has helped establish a motor and auto body school. It is hoped that additional personnel can be hired to teach plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, and electronics.
The old building, used to house female offenders, has been vacant since 1918. It is now being renovated to house our academic and vocational programs. The old power plant is also being renovated to house the recreation department.
Proposed new construction would include a warden's residence, a new barn at Farm 6, a new tower at Station 3, and a new garage outside the institution.
It is recommended that the institution be furnished with pre-sentence reports to assist staff to better evaluate an admitted offender.
It is recommended that a program be established to allow employees to further their education while remaining on the institutional payroll.
The principal reason for failure of the mental health unit is the difficulty in securing professional personnel. Another factor is the inability of this program to accept new policies and philosophy of the day. The current viewpoint places emphasis on custody with little or no consideration for treatment.
In early 1958, an inspection of the mental health unit by members of the legislature labeled the unit as "an appalling situation". Prompt action was taken and a grant of $375,000 was made for the 1958-1959 biennium for the establishment of a complete psychiatric unit at Anamosa. The legislators found mentally ill prisoners existing in cells for years without treatment or therapy. Many had never been found guilty of a crime. Some men were found to have been on the ward without treatment for as long as 50 years without even being brought to trial. This situation was allowed to exist for the last 85 years.
In discussing the situation with Mr. Purcell, he stated when he started working at the Reformatory in 1931, doctors from 4 mental institutions in Iowa met at the reformatory only twice each year for 4 hours to examine the prisoners, but no prisoner was ever treated.
Some improvement came about in 1954 and 1955 when Dr. Charles L. Graves, Director of Mental Health in Iowa, spent 2 weeks twice a year at Anamosa examining the mentally ill patients. While he was unable to treat them, he did succeed in bringing a number to trial whom he found to be no longer mentally ill.
In 1958, Dr. James O. Cromwell established a psychiatric unit at Anamosa headed by Dr. Joseph Stomel of Vacaville, California. The team consisted of a psychiatrist, a psychologist, 2 social workers, and a secretary.
It was hoped this would solve the problem. But gradually the professional personnel moved on and the program deteriorated and was abandoned. At present, 1 psychiatric nurse runs the unit, assisted by custody staff. Also Dr. John Hegge, a staff psychiatrist at Independence, spends 1/2 days per week at Anamosa examining patients, and prescribing medications.
An experienced captain, Lawrence LaBarge, who has demonstrated unusual ability in understanding and managing mentally ill prisoners, has been appointed associate warden in charge of custody in the insane ward.
It is proposed by the Board of Control that the Legislature
consider funds for the construction of a Security Hospital
designed to accommodate mentally ill prisoners at a location to
1962/1964 - The cost per capita in 1962 is $1,500.
The emphasis of prison reform has been concentrated on rehabilitation. The treatment phase of an incarcerated felon includes: social services, psychological services, pastoral counseling and recreation. More than 500 men have individual hobbies such as leather work, short story writing, painting and ceramics. The training program consists of academic, vocational and state park camps. Almost 330 men are attending school. The high school classes are conducted at night utilizing 6 part time instructors from the Cedar Rapids school system.
A program to train heavy equipment operators has been developed and currently the men are being trained in the use of bulldozers, tractors, and other construction equipment.
The Luster Heights camp, a 40 bed unit opened at Yellow River State Park in July, 1963. This camp operates in cooperation with the State Conservation Commission. Only minimum security men are assigned to this unit. Work consists of the development of recreational areas, reforestation, and general utility projects.
A concentrated effort is being made to improve our public image in Iowa. In Sept, 1963 the Anamosa Chamber of Commerce spent the day at the Reformatory in a variety of activities. Business and professional men from the group observed first hand the efforts being made to train and rehabilitate the young offenders.
Salary standards are barely marginal at the institution,
especially correctional officers, clerical staff and maintenance
1963 - During October of 1963 a disturbance caused
considerable damage within the institution. Fires were started in
the tailor shop, the canning factory was damaged, and inmates
broke into the motor school and ran two trucks into each other in
the yard. Order was restored after several hours, with no loss of
life. Following that incident, Warden Ray Purcell announced his
retirement, effective the following May.
1964 - Following the retirement of Warden Purcell, Benjamin
Baer, Director of Correctional Institutions, was named acting
Warden. He resigned in June, when the Board of Control did not
confirm his recommendation for the new warden, but instead named
Charles Haugh the new warden. Mr. Haugh assumed duties July 6,
1964/1966 - Monthly per capita cost is $170.98, the population on 1/1/66 is 918. Industry shops include license plates, furniture, soap, tailor, tire, and print. Vocational training includes motor school, auto body, meat cutting and machine shop.
The institution has made a considerable amount of progress geared toward the total treatment of the young offender. We currently have a Social Service Department and 5 counselors. We are in need of a psychologist.
The Recreation Department continues to expand. Members of varsity athletic teams that have met custodial requirements have been allowed to play civilian teams outside the institution.
Construction programs that provide an outlet for other talents include writers club, art club, pinochle club, and chess club.
During the last biennium the legislature appropriated funds for badly needed raises in custodial officers salaries as well as providing uniforms.
Future plans call for an increase in staff in most areas. Social Services is in critical need of additional staff so that inmates can receive more individual attention. Both academic and vocational areas should be expanded.
Much time and effort is being directed toward planning for the
Iowa Security Medical Facility at Oakdale, Iowa.
1966/1968 - Richard Kurtz was promoted to business manager to replace L. W. Hoyle, on August 1, 1967. John Sissel was promoted to Director of Treatment April 1, 1968. Additional staff has been added to both Social Services and Clinical Services. Caseloads have been reduced to the point where the counselor can work individually with his client.
The tire recapping plant and the print shop have now been established as vocational training programs.
The work release program has provided many opportunities for a number of men. Men in the program pay Federal and State taxes, board and room, past debts, and all or part of welfare payments to their dependents.
A remodeling project in the dining room is underway, with the old tables removed and new 4-man tables installed. A new method of feeding allows the men to enter the dining hall at their own leisure within a certain period of time and may choose their own seats.
The farms include 1,442 acres planted in corn, oats, and hay.
Livestock include dairy and beef cattle.