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Iowa State Penitentiary to host picnic for inmates, guests

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The Iowa State Penitentiary at Ft. Madison

FORT MADISON, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa State Penitentiary is trying out a new way to reward well-behaved inmates: The prison is hosting a family picnic.

Warden Patti Wachtendorf says the Sept. 16 event will be the first-of-its kind at Iowa’s maximum-security prison for male offenders.

Inmates who have not had rules violations in the last three years are eligible to attend, along with two visitors.

The prison is expecting 30 inmates and 57 guests for the event, where chicken, baked beans, chips and cookies will be on the menu.

Wachtendorf says the picnic will give offenders a chance to eat a meal with their families, which isn’t allowed during routine visits. She says the purpose is to encourage positive behavior, adding that inmates who participated in a large July 1 brawl will be ineligible.