FDCF deputy warden announces retirement

Nearly a decade ago, Darlene Baugh came to the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility as the prison’s deputy warden.

After 10 years in the position, Baugh recently announced she’ll retire at the end of this month.

Baugh’s decision is the result of a new opportunity.

“My husband had gotten a job in Virginia,” she said. “We’d always planned on retiring there because most of our family lives there.”

She said her husband, Dennis Baugh, moved to Virginia late last year.

“I decided to stay here for a little bit longer,” she said. “I’ll be joining him at the end of March.”

Before she came to Fort Dodge, Baugh worked in Des Moines in the Department of Corrections’ central office.

“I came here because this institution was seen as being progressive and inventive with inmates,” she said. “That reputation has escalated even more since I’ve been here.”

Prison professionals from other states often visit FDCF to discuss the programs it uses and how they can implement them at their own facilities.

“That’s really a reflection of the staff here,” Baugh said.

Without the prison’s staff, its reputation wouldn’t be where it is.

“They go with the flow and are willing to change,” she said.

Baugh witnessed the prison’s successful treatment programs firsthand when she had a chance encounter with a former inmate a few weeks ago.

“He proudly shared with me that he has been out for three years, he’s gotten a job and is now working hard at supporting his family,” she said. “That says a lot about what our facility can do.”

In her position as deputy warden, Baugh said it’s difficult to describe the breadth of her responsibilities.

“I’ve got my hands in nearly everything that goes on here,” she said. “I spend a bit of my time with programming and treatment. In the absence of the warden, I serve in his capacity. I’m pretty much everywhere.”

“Every day is different,” she added. “There’s no repetition to what goes on here.”

In addition to the prison’s staff, Baugh said she’ll miss the challenges her job brings.

“I’ll miss the complexities of the business,” she said. “It’s hard to describe to people who don’t work in corrections, but it’s an ever-changing profession.”

Baugh said she’s looking forward to her upcoming move to Virginia.

“I’m excited to spend time with my grandchildren,” she said. “I’ll also be spending time doing things I’ve had an interest in.”

That includes exploring her new home.

“Virginia is full of historic places and events that are different from here,” she said. “I’m going to take the time to enjoy it.”