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Iowa Prisoners Perform Private Sector Work for Parole Board Member

In order to avoid interfering with private sector commerce, Iowa Prison Industries (IPI) is supposed to only perform work for governmental and non-profit organizations. That does not always happen, though.

In April 2010, a crew of prisoners installed several cubicles at Washington Title and Guaranty Company, a business owned by Richard Bordwell, a member of the Iowa State Parole Board.

The crew of three prisoners from Newton Correctional Facility was supervised by Dan Crook, an ironically-named IPI technician. The pieces for the cubicles were made by prisoners at different Iowa prisons. The desks and partitions, for example, were produced at the prison in Anamosa.

“These guys are all in for non-violent offenses,” said Crook. “They have less than three years remaining on their sentence. This gives them a chance to get out of the prison for a while. They all seem to enjoy it. They have a great work ethic. I’ve been with Prison Industries for two years now, and I’ve never had an incident with any of the guys. They’re good guys to work with; they just happened to take a wrong turn in life.”

While extolling the virtues of the IPI prisoner workers, Crook did not address whether it was proper for a parole board member to be using state prison labor for the benefit of his private business.


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