The new Anamosa State Penitentiary warden, Jeremy Larson, is excited about his new opportunity.
Warden positions are obviously sparse, with just eight state prisons available, but to get an opportunity to be the warden at this one in particular was a chance he just couldn’t pass up.
“It’s definitely been a goal of mine for quite some time to be a warden, and I really saw it as an opportunity one, for me, and two, what’s really exciting is it’s Anamosa State Penitentiary,” he said, citing the history of the prison. “I’ve only heard positive things…about the staff and the culture here. That’s really what attracted me to the opportunity.”
The appointment is his first warden position, but Larson has worked in the prison industry for 20 years. Larson started in the Fort Dodge facility as a corrections officer, before being promoted to a corrections counselor, then being promoted again to the position of lieutenant and, finally, the treatment services director of the facility for about five years.
It was then in 2014 that he was named deputy warden in Mitchellville, before being appointed to his final position as deputy warden in Newton. Larson said he felt his strong treatment background helped him get his first deputy warden job, as the warden there had a strong security background, making for a strong collaboration, and that his overall background gave him a well-rounded background.
Being located in the heart of Anamosa was one of the things that Larson felt helped make the penitentiary unique, and the history of community involvement in the penitentiary was another draw for him.
Speaking nine days into the start of his new position, Larson was only in his third day on-site at the penitentiary and had yet to pack his office in Newton. He said he was in the process of getting to know the community better, and his predecessor, Bill Sperfslage, had been helping him with that process.
That information seeking process includes getting to not only know his staff but how the prison operates. Larson has visited a few times for security audits but is still getting a sense of the processes. He’s looking forward to bringing his “fresh perspective to things.”
One place where Larson does have some familiarity with is some of the inmates, having recognized some familiar faces he’s worked with before.
“Being in corrections for 20 years, those guys that have been doing time for a long time, I know a lot of them already,” he said.
Larson will have a great opportunity to get to know his staff better as he will be mingling with many of the staff during their length of service luncheon Nov. 22. Larson is looking forward to settling in to his new position and hopes to foster a culture where staff can have a safe working environment and the inmates can have a safe living environment where people treat each other like they would want to be treated.
“I’m really humbled and honored to have this position,” he said.