November 2017

Humanities Iowa partnered with Filmmaker Dan Manatt on a new documentary about the Iowa State Penitentiary. The film, “The Fort: 177 Years of Crime & Punishment at the Iowa State Penitentiary,” premiered in Fort Madison in September and is now available on DVD. The Iowa State Penitentiary (nicknamed “The Fort”) was founded in 1839. At the time of its closing in 2015, it was the oldest prison west of the Mississippi River.

The documentary chronicles its history, takes a look at the new Iowa State Penitentiary facility and profiles the inmates and staff who make up the penitentiary community. Interviewees include Jack Nutter, who entered “The Fort” in 1956 when he was only 18 and is one of the longest-serving inmates in the country, Nick Ludwick, the warden from 2006-2017 and Edward Love, who works in the prison’s hospice program, among others. The hospice program is one of the first of its kind in the United States.

Manatt has been a documentary filmmaker for 10 years. His previous films include “The Republic of Baseball: The First MLB Superstars and Civil Rights Heroes” and “Whiskey Cookers: The True History of the Templeton Rye Bootleggers,” which won Best Documentary at the Iowa Independent Film Festival in 2014.

For more information on “The Fort,” visit