Iowa Warden Removed in Escapee Case

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Gov. Tom Vilsack said Tuesday he has removed the warden of the Iowa State Penitentiary in the wake of the high-profile escape of two inmates and asked for a study on building a new maximum security prison.

Ken Burger has been relieved of his duties and will be replaced by John Ault, warden of a medium security prison in Anamosa. Burger will be reassigned and will soon retire, the governor said.

Vilsack said seven prison employees have been disciplined in the wake of last week's escape of Joseph Legendre, 27, and Martin Moon, 34.

The pair were unnoticed as they scaled a 30-foot wall with a makeshift rope and grappling hook. Both men were recaptured late last week, one in Illinois and the other in Missouri.

Vilsack said he has asked the state's board of corrections for a recommendation on building a new maximum security prison to replace the one in Fort Madison, which was built in 1839.

The governor said he expects the recommendation within 30 days.

Vilsack estimates the cost of a new prison at $40 million with an annual operating budget of $6 million.