Hansen to keep pensions
Thomas Lee Hansen will be able to keep his pensions even after his sentencing in 2013. Hansen worked at a couple of public sector jobs in Johnson County, which together pay him $2,200 a month, which he will continue to earn even while in prison.
Hansen, 72, was convicted of second-degree murder on Friday. He will be ordered to pay at least $150,000 in restitution to the estate of Sharon Kay Gerot, the woman he was convicted of murdering.
Wash-ington County Attorney Larry Brock said there is a possibility Hansen could be forced to pay even more than $150,000. He said the amount of restitution will be up to the sentencing judge, who will likely be Judge Joel Yates since Yates was the presiding judge in Hansen’s trial. Hansen’s sentencing date is Feb. 1, 2013.
After his arrest, Hansen filled out a form indicating his monthly income and monthly payments. He listed his pension from the fire department in Iowa City at $1,300 a month. He listed his IPERS income as $900 a month. His monthly Social Security income was listed as $900. However, the Social Security Administration does not send payments to people who are incarcerated.
Fred Scaletta, assistant director of the Iowa Department of Corrections, said that all inmates are first sent to the Oakdale Correctional Facility where they are sorted and assigned to a prison. He said violent offenders are sent to either the penitentiary in Fort Madison or Anamosa, and that these are maximum security prisons.
Scaletta said there is a limited number of things an inmate can buy while incarcerated. He said the inmates can purchase “commissary items” such as stamps, envelopes and snacks. He said they can also purchase magazine subscriptions, hobby craft items and use their money to pay for phone calls.
The money used within the prison must be deposited in a special account set up by the department of corrections. If an inmate owes restitution, 20 percent of the money that is deposited into this account goes toward paying off his restitution.
Scaletta said an inmate could conceivably manage a bank account outside the prison through phone calls. He said an inmate could purchase or sell property outside the prison, provided someone on the outside were coordinating this.
In a maximum security prison, Scaletta said that inmates would be able to watch television, play board games, lift weights and play team sports in the yard.
“If the inmate is in our general prison population, we keep them busy,” Scaletta said. “We’re probably going to have them in work assignment doing lawn care, manufacturing license plates or building furniture, if their behavior allows that.”
Scaletta said the department of corrections can mandate that inmates perform work programs. If the inmate does not have a high school diploma, the department can mandate that he obtain a GED.
“We have teachers on site,” he said. “We contract with community colleges to provide our GED services.”