Old Iowa state prison
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Release Set for Documentary on the Old Iowa State Penitentiary

It used to be the oldest prison west of the Mississippi River, and now the Old Iowa State Penitentiary is being featured in a documentary that is scheduled to be released on DVD next week.

Old Iowa state prisonIn an hour-long film, the old Iowa State Penitentiary is explored. The dirty details, as well as some of the stories of the hardest criminals the prison has held, are told in this interesting piece of American prison history. The documentary is being shown in Fort Madison, at the Fox Theatre as a preview before it’s official release.

The Old Iowa State Penitentiary was opened in 1839. It would later gain the nickname “The Fort.” In operation for 177 years before it was closed a few years ago, the documentary titled “The Fort,” which was produced by Humanities Iowa, includes an upfront interview wish Jack Nutter, who has been serving the longest amount of time of any inmate in Iowa.

Nutter says he misses the old prison. Prisoners have since been moved to Fort Madison in a new prison.

According to Nutter, he grew up in the old prison. In an interview with the filmmakers, the new prison isn’t for old people. Nutter, who is currently serving time for shooting and killing an Independence police officer in 1956, has told many interviewers that he has no idea why he committed that crime. He has said that four days after he wound up in prison, he could have been released and never done anything wrong again.

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These days, Nutter lives in the medical unit of the Iowa State Penitentiary and says that he is too old to get into trouble. At this time, he is one of five in the United States who have been in prison for the longest term.

Public tours were held at “The Fort,” over the past weekend as part of efforts to raise funds for a report that will allow the Department of Corrections to release the property eventually. Private investors have shown interest in turning the old prison into a tourist attraction.


Melissa Knight
Melissa Knight has been a freelance writer for over a decade now. In that time, she has covered a plethora of topics. Her focus, though, tends to remain on addiction, natural health, health and nutrition, fitness, the paranormal, demons, finances and more. In addition to her personal blogs, she is also a published author and editor of a rehab placement website. Melissa currently writes news for the Prison Rideshare Network.