Justice Reform Consortium has come to an end

JRC Comes to an End

In 2000, Jean Basinger and Rev. Carlos Jayne came up with an idea.  Build a consortium of non-profit organizations that cannot afford a lobbyist on their own, find common ground on issues, and have one lobbyist represent those issues before the Iowa Legislature.  Thus, Justice Reform Consortium (JRC) was born.

For 18 years, JRC lobbied to reform the criminal justice system, from one based on retributive justice to one based on restorative justice. It supported legislation that would provide increased funding for family connections, education, mental health and substance abuse treatment and reentry programs. The consortium of organizations believed that Iowa should be investing in drug and mental health courts and other community-based corrections, including those that serve the mentally ill who have become involved with the criminal justice system.

At the end of its run, JRC fought the enhancement or creation of new crimes unless there was empirical evidence that this approach would work as a deterrent on unwanted behaviors.  It was a necessary and at times an unpopular voice in the room.  The steering committee has determined that it is time to pass the baton.  We remain confident that others will continue to lend a voice for these important issues.

We thank the many supporters over the years for their financial gifts and time.  It has been greatly appreciated!

Final Report

 This is not only the final report for Justice Reform Consortium for the 2018 Legislative Session, it is the final report that Fawkes-Lee & Ryan will submit.

With a couple of exceptions, the following report contains only those bills that brought about a vote. It does not include bills in which the JRC declared “undecided”, every bill that did come to a vote, or bills without a “significant” connection to the work of JRC.

√ – a legislator’s vote was compatible to the position of the JRC.

x – a legislator’s vote was not compatible to the position taken by the JRC.

a – a legislator was not present, or did not vote on the bill.

p – a legislator had a conflict of interest and “passed” on the bill rather than vote.

n – a legislator was not serving in the chamber at the time the vote was taken.

The vote counts may be found online at:  Senate Votes, and House Votes.

There are many reasons why legislators vote for or against a bill.  If you have a question as to why your legislator voted a certain way, your representative or senator should be willing to give you an explanation.  We encourage you to sit down with your legislator(s) and discuss the issues with which you have a concern.

SELECTED JRC ISSUES

 #1HF 2399JUVENILE JUSTICEThe Iowa Department of Human Services proposed a measure that would have turned the Iowa Boys Training School at Eldora over to the Iowa Department of Corrections, changing the focus from rehabilitation to one of punishment.  JRC, along with other allies, worked diligently to prevent the bill from moving beyond its passage in the House.  HF 2399 passed the House 59-38video and was sent to the Senate.  The Senate did not consider the bill.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √. 

#2.  HF 2443JUVENILE JUSTICEThis bill offers several changes in Iowa’s law on Juvenile Justice.  Much of the bill addresses the confidentiality of juvenile delinquency records and allows disclosure in certain circumstances to particular people – such as judges, county attorneys, guardians ad litem, juvenile court officers, limited school officials, and others.  The bill also amends current law to provide that a hearing is required to be held within two working days of the time of a child’s admission to a shelter care facility and within one day of a child’s admission to a detention facility.  JRC SUPPORTED this bill. An “AYE” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.  HF 2443 passed the House unanimously, 98-0video. It also passed the Senate unanimously, 48-0 –video.  The governor has signed the bill into law. 

#3.  HF 2450CRIMINAL JUSTICE:  There have been close to 360 inmates in the United States who have been wrongfully convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, sentenced to prison, and have been exonerated through the process of DNA testing.  This bill, a project of the State Public Defender, allows a defendant who has been convicted of a felony or aggravated misdemeanor the opportunity to seek from the court an order to require that DNA analysis profiling be performed on evidence of a forensic sample in the case for which the person stands convicted if the DNA has not been analyzed previously.  HF 2450 passed the House 97-0video It was sent to the Judiciary Committee in the Senate but was never brought out of committee. A subcommittee had met, but did not advance the bill.  JRC SUPPORTED this bill. An “AYE” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √. 

#4.  HF 2492  – APPROPRIATIONS:  A bill that appropriates money for the Justice Systems (Dept. of Corrections, Dept. of Justice [Attorney General], Civil Rights Commission, Dept. of Public Safety, and several others).  An amendment on the floor of the House during debate, offered by Rep. Gary Wortham (R-Storm Lake), would have eliminated a pilot program established in Linn, Polk and Scott Counties that relies upon a risk assessment to release people charged with crimes (and pending trials) rather than the outdated use of bonds and bondsmen.   Rep. Rick Olson (D-Des Moines) offered an amendment to strike the prohibitive language from the bill, but a vote on the amendment failed.  The vote was not recorded.  Senator Tony Bisignano (D-Des Moines) offered an amendment in the Senate to strike the language and the vote was recorded.  Unfortunately, the amendment failed. Also, it would be unfair to list the recorded votes for this amendment because Sen. Bisignano had to vote against his own amendment in order to file a motion of reconsideration.   JRC OPPOSED this particular part of the bill because the section is an offensive and unjust provision harmful to poor persons accused but not convicted of a crime which denies them pre-trial release without bond with judge approval.  The bill passed on a party line vote.  Governor Reynolds exercised her line-item veto authority to strike Rep. Wortham’s amendment, restoring the pilot programs to those counties using them.  However, the item veto applies only through the end of the year[1]. The following is her veto message:

“House File 2492 is approved on this date with the following exceptions in Sections 5 and 17, of which I disapprove:

“The State of Iowa is currently taking part in a Public Safety Assessment (PSA) pilot program that provides judges with an objective, data-driven approach that they can use in pretrial proceedings when exercising their discretion. Sections 5 and 17 end that pilot program immediately.

“I disapprove of these sections because I believe that we should consider and study ways to create a fairer pretrial system that protects the public. But I also understand that the legislature and other stakeholders have questions about the PSA and whether it considers all of the appropriate factors. For that reason, I am instructing the agencies of the executive branch to continue their participation in this pilot program until December 31, 2018. At that time, the pilot will be concluded and further use of this assessment suspended until the data from the pilot can be analyzed. If, after studying the data and research conclusions, it is found that this program will be in the best interests of the public, then new legislation should be considered that authorizes the PSA or similar risk-assessment tools. I want to also emphasize that, even during the short pendency of the pilot project, the PSA does not and should not replace the judge’s discretion. The PSA is but one piece of information and the ultimate decision rests with each person sitting on the bench.”

The bill adds new sections to the Iowa Code, even though Republican leadership throughout the years has emphatically said that it would not use policy language in appropriations bills.  For example:

 

NEW SECTION. 719.9 Use of unmanned aerial vehicle —— prohibitions.

  1. As used in this section: a. “Facility” means a county jail, municipal holding facility, secure facility for the detention or custody of juveniles, community-based correctional facility, or institution under the management of the department of corrections.
  2. “Unmanned aerial vehicle” means a vehicle or device that uses aerodynamic forces to achieve flight and is piloted remotely.
  3. A person shall not operate an unmanned aerial vehicle knowing that the unmanned aerial vehicle is operating in, on, or above a facility and any contiguous real property comprising the surrounding grounds of the facility, unless the unmanned aerial vehicle is operated by a law enforcement agency or the person has permission from the authority in charge of the facility to operate an unmanned aerial vehicle in, on, or above such facility.
  4. This section does not apply to an unmanned aerial vehicle while operating for commercial use in compliance with federal aviation administration regulations, authorizations, or exemptions.
  5. A person who violates this section commits a class “D” felony.

The bill creates the PUBLIC SAFETY SUPPORT TRUST FUND.

PRISON READING ROOMS:

PRISON READING ROOMS Sec. 21. Section 904.310A, Code 2018, is amended by striking the section and inserting in lieu thereof the following: 904.310A Information or materials —— distribution. 1. Funds appropriated to the department or other funds made available to the department shall not be used to distribute or make available any commercially published information or material to an inmate when such information or material is sexually explicit or features nudity. 2. The department shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 17A to administer this section.

SPECIALTY COURTS —— STUDY

The judicial branch and the department of corrections in cooperation with the division of criminal and juvenile justice planning of the department of human rights, and the judicial district departments of correctional services, shall study the effectiveness and recidivism rates of persons assigned to the specialty courts of the judicial branch. The national center for state courts may be utilized in order to complete the study. The judicial branch shall file a report detailing the cost-effectiveness of the specialty courts including any recommendations with the general assembly and the fiscal services division of the legislative services agency by January 15, 2019.

As mentioned above, we do not publish the vote count on this particular piece of legislation.  JRC declares as “undecided” on this annual bill because content of the bill can change rapidly and because of the balance of good legislation with bad.

#5.  HF 2436 PROBATION:  An interesting bill introduced by Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion), it calls for an interim study committee to include recommendations relevant to the future use of intermediate criminal sanctions and policies surrounding technical and serious violations with the goal of reducing recidivism and admissions to prison for probation revocations, and increasing transparency and accountability.  The bill passed the House unanimously (98-0video), but was held up by a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee.  JRC SUPPORTED this bill. An “AYE” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#6.  HF 2435 ASSESSMENTS:  This legislation, creating a domestic abuse lethality screening assessment, will come up again in a future general assembly.  Lethality screening assessments are popular with legislatures throughout the United States.  JRC is leery of this legislation because it may run afoul of Iowa’s Constitution, Article 1, Section 17[2], which prohibits excessive bail.  HF 2435 passed the House 98-0video.  The Senate Judiciary Committee did not take it up for consideration after a subcommittee had recommended it for passage with an amendment.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#7.  SF 2375CRIMINAL JUSTICEThis bill eliminates the statute of limitations for prosecution of most sex offenses.  Currently, there is a 10-year window after a victim turns 18 years-old to prosecute a perpetrator for a sex crime against the victim.  This bill eliminates any period of time between the sex crime and the ability of the state to bring charges.  The bill passed the Senate unanimously, 50-0.  video It was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, but was never considered.  JRC OPPOSED this bill. A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √. 

#8.  HSB 569 & SSB 3134DEATH PENALTY: Both of these bills were intended to reinstate capital punishment in Iowa.  Each bill had its own characteristics.  The House bill, HSB 569, would have allowed the death penalty in almost every 1st degree murder.  It failed to pass out of a House Public Safety subcommittee at the end of a dramatic meeting with heavy emotion and an overflowing room of supporters and opponents.  Rep. Greg Heartsill (R-Chariton) was the lone vote in favor of moving the bill to the full committee.  Reps. Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines) and Steven Holt (R-Denison) voted “No” on the bill’s advancement.  The Senate bill, SSB 3134 did pass out of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee with a split vote along party lines (Those voting for passage included: Sens. Julian Garrett (R-Indianola); Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig); and Dan Dawson (R-Council Bluffs).  Those voting against the bill were Sens. Rich Taylor (D-Mt. Pleasant) and Tony Bisignano (D-Des Moines).  However, Senator Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) declared shortly after the bill was recommended by the subcommittee that it was not going to be brought up before the full Senate Judiciary Committee, thereby killing the bill for the 2018 session.  JRC was a major player in the massive and coordinated effort to thwart the attempts in both chambers.  JRC STRONGLY OPPOSED both bills.  There is no vote display on these bills.

 #9.  SF 2382CRIMINAL JUSTICE:  Senator Dan Dawson (R-Council Bluffs), an officer with the Iowa Department of Public Safety (Narcotics), has made this legislation a priority of his.  The crime bill has sixty-one sections.  It covers so many different issues it could be considered to be logrolling, which is unconstitutional.

The constitutional problem is with the title of the bill.  Article III, Section 29 of the Iowa Constitution says:

Every act shall embrace but one subject, and matters properly connected therewith; which subject shall be expressed in the title. But if any subject shall be embraced in an act which shall not be expressed in the title, such act shall be void only as to so much thereof as shall not be expressed in the title.

The title of the bill relates to the “criminal code”, but it covers so much more.  The bill addresses subjects such as the “medical examiner” and “drivers’ licenses”.

Another serious problem with the legislation is a segment of the bill in which convictions in another state may be “counted as previous offenses” for the purpose of enhancing penalties.  This provision may violate the Iowa Supreme Court’s opinion in State v. Young, 863 N.W.2d 249 (2015) (concluding that under the right to counsel provision of article I, section 10 of the Iowa Constitution, a misdemeanor defendant has a right to the assistance of counsel when the defendant faces the possibility of imprisonment.) The problem arises when two persons have similar circumstances in Iowa, but have not had similar circumstances in others states.  An individual who has been convicted of a simple misdemeanor in another state, and has been afforded the right to counsel is going to be charged with a subsequent offense, enhancing the penalty.  However, an individual who was convicted in another state of the same simple misdemeanor, but has not been afforded the right to an attorney at the time, will have a legitimate right to invoke the holding in YoungThe two individuals will not be treated identically, raising the issue of equal protection under the Iowa Constitution’s Article I, Section 6 – Laws Uniform[3].

There are many other problems with the bill.  Section 41 of the bill takes away the right to appeal, even in felony cases if the person pled guilty. If a person appeals after a guilty plea there are many reasons why the person might appeal. They might appeal the sentence or may believe their lawyer was ineffective enough to have another court to review their case.  Section 43 eliminates the ability to raise a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal. Section 44 pertains to verdicts being challenged on direct appeal. This provision would change the way courts look at evidence in deciding cases.

SF 2382 passed the Senate 47-2 video and was sent to the House.  Rep. Chip Baltimore (R-Boone) drastically amended the bill coming out of a subcommittee, and the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill along with the amendment on to the floor of the House.  Several other amendments were offered by Rep. Baltimore in the closing days of the session in order to strike a compromise, but it appears as though none of the proposed amendments were acceptable.  Sen. Dawson’s most important section in this bill is the provision creating definitions of “simulated firearms” and “simulated explosives” and their nexus to first degree robbery.  JRC STRONGLY OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#10SF 2365 NEW CRIMES:  This bill creates the crime of interference with a service dog/animal (simple misdemeanor), defines service dog/animal, and establishes housing restrictions for service animals.  SF 2365 passed the Senate 49-0video.  The bill had moved out of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and was placed on the House Debate Calendar, but it was never considered in the final days of the session.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#11SF 2371 ENHANCED PENALTIES:  SF 2371 enhances the criminal penalties for individuals engaged in human trafficking of victims who are under the age of 18 from a class “C” felony to a class “B” felony.  This bill passed the Senate 49-0video.  A House Judiciary subcommittee recommended passage but the Committee did not take it up for consideration.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

 #12.  HJR 2010 & SJR 2010 – CRIMINAL LAWThese two resolutions would amend the Iowa Constitution to implement what is known as Marsy’s Law, an attempt to incorporate victims’ rights into the Constitution.  JRC OPPOSED these two identical measures.  JRC printed the position of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence in a 2018 Newsletter, Vol. 9, No.5.  It’s the best reasoning against this effort:

 Invest in comprehensive victim rights and potections for victims of violent crimes – ICADV is unwavering in our support for all victims. We oppose Iowa’s Marsy’s Law (SSB 3040; HJR 2003) because experience tells us there are much more effective ways to support victims. Amending the constitution is a symbolic gesture that won’t make the criminal justice system any friendlier to victims. Establishing rights without legitimate remedy gives false hope to victims and diverts resources away from systems and services that can meet the comprehensive needs of Iowa victims. We believe this bill negatively impacts services and support for all victims, including the vast majority who will never set foot in a courtroom. The proposal contradicts essential principals of American justice and would upend our severely underfunded legal system to the detriment of victims. Iowa law already includes comprehensive victim rights and protections [Iowa Code Chapter 915]. Before amending the constitution, we should ensure we have adequately supported the systems and services that enable victims to access and benefit from statutory protections. The insensitivity and indifference experienced by many victims is not a constitutional failing. It is a failing of common decency by people, society and social systems themselves. Click here to read our full statement on Iowa’s Marsy’s Law. Click here to read our Victim Service Providers concerns of Marsy’s Law.

 HJR 2010 and SJR 2010 were not brought up for a vote this session, but we expect they will be re-introduced in the 2019 session.

#13HF 2401 SEX OFFENDERS:  The Attorney General’s Office claimed this law was a technical cleanup bill.  The original bill, House Study Bill 641, looks nothing like its offspring, HF 2401.  The original bill was requested by the Iowa Dept. of Human Services.  The AG apparently hijacked it on its way out of committee.  The AG said this bill was a response to State of Iowa v. Iowa District Court for Jones County, a case that held “a department of corrections retroactive policy change on earned-time sentence reduction was precluded by a previous Iowa Supreme Court decision and violated the Ex Post Facto Clauses of the United States and Iowa Constitutions.”  The language of the bill is questionable in whether it clarifies the problem.  The bill passed the House 96-1video.  A subcommittee in the Senate Judiciary recommended passage, but it was never considered by the full Committee.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#14.  HF 2404 RESTITUTION/VICTIMS:  An award of restitution made to the victim’s estate or heirs at law shall not be reduced by any third-party payment, including any insurance payment, unless the offender is a named or covered insured.  The bill passed both houses unanimously (House 98-0video)(Senate 48-0video) and has been signed by the governor.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#15.  SF 2343 CRIMINAL LAWSupposedly, there are many incidents of people in the Davenport area attempting to outrun police vehicles, and this is the solution – forfeiture of the person’s motor vehicle, but only if the person who attempted to elude the police is the registered owner of the vehicle.  Constitutional issues of Equal Protection and Due Process are very evident in this measure.  The bill passed the Senate 41-9video and was not considered in the House.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

 #16SF 2282 JUDICIAL BRANCHIt’s amazing that this bill could have passed out of the Senate, much less out of a Judiciary Committee, but it did.  It supposedly instructs the Iowa Supreme Court that it cannot strike down a statute as unconstitutional unless a supermajority (5-2) of justices declare it to be unconstitutional.  It passed the Senate 26-24video.  It was dead on arrival in the House.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#17.  SF 2235 NEW CRIMES:  This unnecessary and redundant legislation requested by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security creates the new crime of Critical Infrastructure Sabotage and carries some hefty penalties – a class “B” felony and a fine of $85,000 to 100,000 for “critical infrastructure sabotage”.  “Critical infrastructure sabotage” means any unauthorized act that is intended to cause a substantial interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public relating to critical infrastructure property. JRC has expressed concerns that the fine could be considered an “excessive fine” in certain circumstances and could violate the Eighth Amendment.  JRC believes the language is too broad in that it does not make exceptions for a labor strike; a possible protest protected by the First Amendment; an incident in which someone runs into an electric pole that knocks out power for a large portion of a city; and several other unforeseen circumstances.  It passed the House 69-31video, and passed the Senate for the final time 35-13video.  Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#18.  SF 2230 ENHANCED PENALTIES:  This legislation is a priority bill of the Iowa County Attorneys Association (ICAA).  Rep. Mary Wolfe (D-Clinton) brought this to our attention in a Tweet.  Rep. Wolfe and Rep. Rick Olson (D-Des Moines) attempted to fix this bill on the House floor during debate, but it appears as though no one was listening.  The bill contains a serious flaw that will allow a kidnapper to elude conviction on the basis of being a parent.  Fawkes-Lee & Ryan, on behalf of Justice Reform Consortium (JRC) requested a veto on this bill.  SF 2230 passed the Senate 50-0video and passed the House 82-16video.  Despite our veto request, Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law within a few days of receiving it, even though the rush was not necessary.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#19.  SF 2197 ENHANCED PENALTIESThis bill provides enhanced criminal penalties for motor vehicle theft when the vehicle is subsequently used in the commission of a felony.  It passed the Senate 37-13video.  It was referred to the House Committee on Judiciary where it was assigned to a subcommittee and failed to move beyond the subcommittee.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#20.  HF 2238 VICTIMS/RESTITUTION:  An insurer may be a victim for purposes of Chapter 910 (Restitution) if insurance fraud in violation of section 507E.3 or 507E.3A has been perpetrated against the insurer.  The bill passed both chambers unanimously (House 98-0video; Senate 48-0video) and has been signed into law by the governor.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#21.  HF 2193CRIMINAL JUSTICEThis bill would allow an out-of-state company to set up a system of texting people who have court dates, fees due, etc.  The fee for this service (an additional 6%) would be in addition to fines, surcharges, etc.  HF 2193 passed the House 98-0video  The Senate did not consider this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.  #22.  SF 415OTHER ISSUES:  This legislation is often known as the “Good Samaritan” bill.  It provides immunity from prosecution when a person contacts authorities (most often law enforcement, but may also include school administrators and medical personnel) to seek emergency assistance to a friend who has overdosed on alcohol.  The intent is to encourage underage persons to report medical emergencies involving alcohol rather than attempting to avoid charges associated with doing the right thing.  Unfortunately, the bill was meant only for alcohol overdoes and not drugs, too.  The bill passed the Senate 49-0 last year.  The House Judiciary Committee considered the bill this year and recommended an amendment (weakening the immunity) and passage.  However, House leadership did not take the bill up for consideration.  Although JRC SUPPORTED this bill, a record of the vote is not appropriate for this year’s analysis because the only vote took place last year. The following bills were passed by both chambers and signed by the governor.  JRC took no position for or against any of the following:

Senate File 2241 Enrolled Senate File 2241 AN ACT RELATING TO THE COMMISSION OF A PAROLE VIOLATION OR A CRIMINAL OFFENSE WHILE ON PAROLE. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA:

A Board of Parole bill, it changes language in Chapter 908 (Violations of parole or probation), removing references to other states and foreign governments, and repeals Code section 908.7, which allows an alleged parole violator to waive the parole revocation hearing. It passed both houses unanimously and has been signed by the governor.

House File 2255 Enrolled House File 2255 AN ACT RELATING TO THE POSSESSION OF CONTRABAND IN OR ON THE GROUNDS OF A COMMUNITY-BASED CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, AND PROVIDING PENALTIES.

Currently, it is unlawful to possess “while confined in a secure facility for the detention or custody of juveniles, detention facility, jail, correctional institution, or institution under the management of the department of corrections, or while being transported or moved incidental to confinement.”  For some reason, that language does include a “community-based correctional facility”.  Notice that the person must be “confined”.  The bill passed both chambers unanimously and has been signed by the governor.

House File 2392 Enrolled House File 2392 AN ACT RELATING TO ELECTRONIC AND MECHANICAL EAVESDROPPING, AND THE INTERCEPTION OF COMMUNICATIONS. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA:

The bill creates a third exception to illegal electronic and mechanical eavesdropping by permitting the use of a monitoring device. The bill defines “monitoring device” to mean a digital video or audio streaming or recording device that records, listens to, or otherwise intercepts video or audio communications placed outside of a person’s dwelling or other structure that is not in a shared hallway and is on real property owned or leased by the person.  The bill passed the House unanimously.  Senator Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines) was the lone “nay” vote in the Senate.  Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law.

The vote counts may be found online at:  Senate Votes, and House Votes.

 

[1] As delighted as JRC is in the line-item veto, we believe the governor extended her constitutional authority by changing the language [law), not just striking the language.  When the governor states that “I am instructing the agencies of the executive branch to continue their participation in this pilot program until December 31, 2018”, she is amending the effective date of a portion of an act approved by the Legislature, violating the separation of powers.  Article III, Section 15 states: “The governor may approve appropriation bills in whole or in part, and may disapprove any item of an appropriation bill; and the part approved shall become a law.”  It does not allow the governor to amend a law, only to “disapprove any item”.

[2] Bail — punishments. SEC. 17. Excessive bail shall not be required; excessive fines shall not be imposed, and cruel and unusual punishment shall not be inflicted.

[3] Laws uniform. SEC. 6. All laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation; the general assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens.

JRC March 25, 2018 Newsletter

Vol. 9 #5 March 25, 2018

 This Is Your Captain Speaking

The Iowa Legislature, like an airplane approaching its destination, is making its descent.  Join us in praying for a crash-free landing.  It’s been a year filled with turbulence.  The 100th day of this year’s session of Iowa’s Eighty-Seventh General Assembly arrives on April 17th.  That’s a Tuesday for anyone who’s counting.  The one-hundredth day marks the end of daily expense money for legislators, an incentive for coming back to earth.

So, for the next three weeks, the Legislature is limited in the bills it can consider.  Of course, the limitation is a list of just about everything:

▪ Bills passed by both Houses

▪ Appropriations Bills

▪ Ways and Means Bills

▪ Government Oversight Bills

▪ Legalizing Acts

▪ Administrative Rules Review Committee Bills

▪ Committee Bills related to delayed or suspended Administrative Rules

▪ Bills co-sponsored by Majority and Minority Leaders of one House

▪ Conference Committee Reports

▪ Companion Bills sponsored by Senate and House Majority Leaders

▪ Concurrent or Simple Resolutions

▪ Joint Resolutions nullifying Administrative Rules

▪ Bills on the Veto Calendar

▪ Unfinished Business

It seems as though this list doesn’t leave much, but the volume of bills that it doesn’t include is massive.  Many qualifying pieces of legislation mentioned above are rare.  Ways & Means (tax writing bills) and Appropriations bills are the focus of getting adjourned for the year.

Because of Justice Reform Consortium’s mission, we occasionally peek at a Ways and Means bill, but have seldom supported or opposed one (but see SF 2394 below).  On the other hand, we do pay attention to appropriations bills.  Not that we can do much about it, but we do follow some appropriations.  We rely upon you to contact your respective legislators to voice your support or opposition to particular sections of bills – primarily the Justice Systems Appropriations.

Setting aside appropriation bills for the present time, we remain actively opposed or supportive of the following bills still considered to be alive:

HF 2394 and Senate File 2235 – These bills create the new crime of critical infrastructure sabotage, and the penalties they provide are atrocious.  JRC OPPOSES.  These bills provide for a class “B” felony and a fine of $85,000 to 100,000 for “critical infrastructure sabotage”.  JRC has expressed concerns that the fine could be considered an “excessive fine” in certain circumstances and could violate the Eighth Amendment[1].

“Critical infrastructure sabotage” means any unauthorized act that is intended to cause a substantial interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public relating to critical infrastructure property. However, “critical infrastructure sabotage” does not include an accidental interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public caused by a person in the performance of the person’s work duties.”

JRC believes the language is too broad to make exceptions for a labor strike; a possible protest protected by the First Amendment; an incident in which someone runs into an electric pole that knocks out power for a large portion of a city; and several other unforeseen circumstances.  We consider the language to be overinclusive and underinclusive.

Senate File 2382 is an Act modifying criminal code provisions relating to criminal records, penalties, prosecutions, appeals, driving privileges, and postconviction relief, and including effective date provisions.  This bill has been identified by JRC as a vicious attack on the courts in the past few newsletters.  Currently, an amendment supported by JRC and introduced by the House Judiciary Committee (unanimously approved in Committee), is pending on the floor of the House.  The amendment may be the demise of the entire bill, and that’s okay with us.  JRC believe this bill includes the constitutionally-prohibited act of logrolling.

House Joint Resolution 2010 and Senate Joint Resolution 2010:  These two pieces of legislation would start the process of amending the Iowa Constitution to include a victims’ rights amendment.  Called Marsy’s Law, JRC OPPOSES this measure.  We are reprinting what we wrote about this over a month ago:

We cannot say it any better than the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence has said:

Invest in comprehensive victim rights and potections for victims of violent crimes – ICADV is unwavering in our support for all victims. We oppose Iowa’s Marsy’s Law (SSB 3040; HJR 2003) because experience tells us there are much more effective ways to support victims. Amending the constitution is a symbolic gesture that won’t make the criminal justice system any friendlier to victims. Establishing rights without legitimate remedy gives false hope to victims and diverts resources away from systems and services that can meet the comprehensive needs of Iowa victims. We believe this bill negatively impacts services and support for all victims, including the vast majority who will never set foot in a courtroom. The proposal contradicts essential principals of American justice and would upend our severely underfunded legal system to the detriment of victims. Iowa law already includes comprehensive victim rights and protections. Before amending the constitution, we should ensure we have adequately supported the systems and services that enable victims to access and benefit from statutory protections. The insensitivity and indifference experienced by many victims is not a constitutional failing. It is a failing of common decency by people, society and social systems themselves. Click here to read our full statement on Iowa’s Marsy’s Law. Click here to read our Victim Service Providers concerns of Marsy’s Law

HF 2443 – This bill addresses the delinquency jurisdiction of the juvenile court and the confidentiality and disclosure of certain juvenile court records.  JRC SUPPORTS this bill.  It is on the Senate Calendar and ready for debate at any time.

SF 2394 – A bill for an act relating to surcharges added to criminal penalties, court funds, civil fees, misdemeanor and felony fines and fines associated with scheduled violations.  JRC opposed this bill’s predecessor, Senate Study Bill 3202.  However, although the bill raises fees on page after page of criminal penalties, fines, etc., it does drastically reduce the criminal surcharges that have been attached to financial obligations owed by defendants in criminal matters.  After careful review, we decided to declare as UNDECIDED on this bill.  In any case (no pun intended), it is insulting and condescending to have the Legislature change the name of the fee from “Criminal Surcharges” to “crime services surcharges”. HF 2270 and SF 2230 – These companion bills redefine kidnapping in the second degree to include the kidnapping of a person under the age of 18.  Supposedly, this addition to the 2nd degree kidnapping would have prevented one person from being released from prison in which he subsequently kidnapped and murdered a minor.  We disagree with the rationale and facts in the case.  A prosecutor had the ability to charge the person with a more severe crime earlier in the person’s life but did not.  JRC opposes bills whose impetus is to address “one” previous case, especially one in which there is discrepancy about the nature of the criminal process.

As we mention often: A bill may become ineligible, but an issue NEVER dies!

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If you spot incorrect information, please let us know.  We strive to produce an accurate account of legislative activity in Iowa as it pertains to criminal justice.  We may make a mistake from time to time, but we admit our fallibility and work to give you a newsletter that we hope will inform you on issues not covered by mainstream media or other outlets.

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Life after Prison:  A New Guide for Iowans

Contacts

Mike Cervantes – Director of Inside Out Reentry Community 319-621-6263 insideoutreentry@gmail.com

Catrina Carter – Director of Reentry and Treatment Services for Iowa DOC 515-725-5713 (office)  515-314-2645 (cell)

Cord Overton – Communications Director for Iowa DOC   515-725-5707 (office) cord.overton@iowa.gov

Selected links:

 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/15/us/hepatitis-c-drugs-prisons.html?partne Hepatitis C Drugs Save Lives, but Sick Prisoners Aren’t Getting Them. New York Times. By TED ALCORN  MARCH 15, 2018.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/21/opinion/missing-criminal-justice-data.html Missing: Criminal Justice Data.  New York Times. AMY BACH  MARCH 21, 2018.

 

[1] Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

First JRC Newsletter of 2017

Vol. 8 #1 January 8, 2017

2017 Legislature

Justice Reform Consortium identified its priorities for the 2017 Legislative Session before the November election.  It’s always been this way.  The election has rarely made a difference on our priorities, and we didn’t see this year as anything different.  Reviewing our priorities and watch list, we continue to see the glass as half-full, just as it has been in the past.

Below is a categorized list of issues that JRC intends to face during the 2017 session of the Eighty-Seventh Iowa General Assembly.  Some may be pursued by legislators in majority; others will fall by the wayside or get caught up in the Legislature’s funnel process.  Nonetheless, JRC is preparing for all issues listed below.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

MINORITY IMPACTS

Transit Assault:  Enhancing the criminal penalty for an assault on an operator of a motor vehicle providing transit services as part of a public transit system, and providing penalties.  A Minority Impact Statement (within a Fiscal Note from a previous year) claims:

The minority impact cannot be estimated but may be significant. Approximately 25.4% of offenders convicted under this Bill may be minorities. This Bill shifts a percentage of serious misdemeanor convictions to aggravated misdemeanor convictions, and a percentage of aggravated misdemeanor convictions to Class D forcible felony convictions. Enhanced penalties will result in an increased number of minority offenders under current law.

JRC OPPOSED this bill in the past, and has strongly opposed the concept for many years.  We anticipate the bill will be introduced again this year.  We will continue to oppose any efforts to make this concept law (See Occupational Assault below under ENHANCED PENALTIES).

Risk Assessments; A trend in sentencing is to look at an offender’s past to determine if the offender is a risk to reoffend.  The preferred sentencing structure is to sentence the defendant based upon the crime for which the defendant committed, not based upon what a person may or may not do at some future date.  JRC OPPOSED in the past.  Requires that a validated risk assessment be part of a presentence investigative report.  JRC believes that risk assessments are biased against people of color, and an in-depth article with factual data proves it:  https://www.propublica.org/article/machine-bias-risk-assessments-in-criminal-sentencing

We believe several government entities will try to expand the use of risk assessments during the 2017 session.

ENHANCED PENALTIES

Interlock devices: “Current law allows a first-time operating-while-intoxicated (OWI) offender to operate a motor vehicle with a temporary restricted driver’s license, but without an ignition interlock device, where, during the offense, the offender’s alcohol concentration was .10 or below and the offender did not cause an accident. An effort by Rep. Sandy Salmon eliminates this provision. A bill in the past provides “that a first-time OWI offender with a temporary restricted driver’s license shall install an ignition interlock device in the offender’s vehicle, whether the offender’s driver’s license revocation was the result of sentencing, deferred judgment, or administrative revocation, and regardless of the offender’s alcohol concentration at the time of the offense.”  Explanation of past bill.

The requirement of installing an ignition interlock device is expensive and restrictive.  In that way, it is considered by JRC to be a penalty enhancement.  JRC opposes penalty enhancements when there is a lack of empirical evidence that proves the increase in a penalty is warranted.  In this matter, the impetus for the bill was based on emotion.  During the previous General Assembly, a subcommittee meeting was held on the bill where a legislator showed a picture of a child who was killed by an impaired driver.  There were not enough subcommittee members willing to sign the bill for it to move out of subcommittee and be placed before the House Judicial Committee for its consideration.

JRC OPPOSED this bill in the past, and Rep. Salmon has written in her newsletter that she will introduce it again this year.

Death Penalty:  Creating the penalty of death for the commission of the multiple offense of murder in the first degree, kidnapping, and sexual abuse against the same minor, providing a penalty.  This bill is reinstating the death penalty in Iowa.  JRC has always OPPOSED.  We expect a Death Penalty bill to be introduced in response to police killings throughout the country.

Occupational Assault:  Each year, a bill is introduced to enhance the penalty for assault against a particular occupation.  For instance, the Transit Assault mentioned earlier.  Many of these bills are “special interest” constituent bills relating to sports officials, bus drivers, etc.  JRC has always OPPOSED these “Animal Farm” bills.

First, these types of bills are always afflicted with the accompanying words “protected”, “protections”, or “protects”.  This bill and others like it protect no one.  If an athlete or spectator is going to assault the official, the act will be committed regardless of the law.  This assumption that a law will protect a person against an assault is pure conjecture.

In the past 20 years, the list of occupations that are referenced in Section 708.3A has grown exponentially.  Before another occupation is added to the list of those already inducted into the piecemealed section, a study needs to be completed to discover the effect of those inclusions.  How many parole board employees and officials have been assaulted since parole board member or employee was added?  And how may parole board employees or officials were assaulted in the same amount of time before the position was added to the list of so-called protected occupations?  Has the inclusion of employees of the “Department of Revenue” and “Department of Human Services” decreased the assaults upon these employees?  Researching these questions, and similar inquiries will disclose the effectiveness of these additions, and will provide insight into whether the entire section should be maintained, enhanced, or discontinued.

How many people charged with violations of Section 708.3A, the predecessor to proposed Section 708.2D, have actually been convicted of the crime; and how many have pled down to simple assault?  There are too many questions that need answered before advancing this legislation.

Second, this legislation epitomizes the vanishing promise of equality related to us in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”.

Equality is a relationship between man and man. . .. In an equal society, there is no division of classes, wealth or power. This was the predominant goal of the Russian Revolution as well as the animal revolution in the story Animal Farms (sic). The thought of having an equal society is admirable, though it’s only a fantasy. In the story Animal Farms (sic), 7 commandments were established soon after the fleeing of Mr. Jones, with the 7th- all animals are equal, being the most important. Later on, bit by bit, the 7 commandments were soon deformed, and the equality which the commandments promised and protected perished.

http://apeliterature.weebly.com/animal-farm—george-orwell-equality.html

Adding certain occupations to a Code section that has yet to prove anything beyond Orwell’s prediction that everyone is equal, but some people are more equal than others, will lead to other members of certain other occupations seeking the same fantasy – this law will protect them.  Eventually, most occupations will be included in this law, and it will become a dividing line between the haves and the have-nots.  The result of years and years of moving other occupations into this Code section will have a name.  It will be called totalitarian control.

Blue Lives Matter:  JRC believes that everything in this nationwide measure is currently in Iowa Code.  We do expect this issue to be introduced and to move through the process.  We will look at the legislation closely to see if it is repetitious or necessary.

So-called “Emmalee’s Law” – modifying hit-and-run laws.  This anticipated legislation is the result of an incident that happened in Ames.  A student was struck by a bus and the driver did not come forward with information, immediately.  JRC will likely OPPOSE.

SENTENCING REFORM

Mandatory Minimums – Justice Reform Consortium has always OPPOSED the creation and expansion of more mandatory minimum sentences.  The elimination or reduction of mandatory minimum statutes must be taken seriously.  Often, reducing the sentence of one crime leads to the expansion or creation of a new law.  JRC will monitor carefully.

CRIME/PUNISHMENT

CO/Inmate Relationships:  Bills relating to the criminal elements and penalties for the commission of sexual misconduct with offenders and juveniles, and including effective date provisions.  JRC SUPPORTED, and actually requested this bill last year.  This legislation was a priority issue for JRC.  It is one of those times the JRC supports the enhancement of a criminal penalty.  This is one of those rare occasions in which JRC believes that the current penalty does not coincide with the crime that has been committed. 

 It may be difficult to think of a prisoner as a victim, but there is no such thing as consensual sex in a correctional setting.

It is important to note that consent is never a legal defense for corrections staff who engage in sexual acts with inmates. According to federal law, all sexual relations between staff and inmates are considered abuse. Even if a sexual act would have been considered consensual if it occurred outside of a prison, by statute it is criminal sexual abuse when it occurs inside a prison. See 18 U.S.C. § 2243 (c).

https://oig.justice.gov/special/0504/

Iowa’s law prohibiting sex between a person in a position of authority and a person who is incarcerated or on parole or probation is weak.

Sexual misconduct by prison and jail employees, vendors, volunteers, etc. “compromises facility security and creates work environments that are negative for both staff and inmates.  Allegations are disquieting and divisive for employees and the public.”  Policy Development Guide for Sheriffs and Jail Administrators.  August, 2002.   https://s3.amazonaws.com/static.nicic.gov/Library/017925.pdf

Section 709.16 addresses prohibition and the criminal penalty of sexual misconduct with an offender.  In Iowa, that penalty is an aggravated misdemeanor.  In most other states, this penalty is a felony[1].  Increasing the penalty to a class “D” felony will align Iowa with the majority of states and should prove to be an effective deterrent[2].

The bill also enhances the penalty from an aggravated misdemeanor to a class “D” felony in a juvenile placement facility.

The punishment should fit the crime, and in this case, enhancing the penalty is appropriate.

DUE PROCESS

Home Occupancy:  Restricting authority of cities to regulate and restrict the occupancy of residential rental property.  Currently, several cities in Iowa have ordinances that restrict how many unrelated people can live in a one-family dwelling. This bill would prohibit such ordinances. JRC SUPPORTS this legislation because many people released from prison need a safe place to live. Ordinances that prohibit habitation based upon kinship are outdated and discriminatory. After all, why should the [local] government know “who” lives in your home and how they are or are not related to each other?  JRC has knowledge of this bill being introduced again, most likely with different language

Tax Collecting: An Act relating to the vehicle registration duties of county treasurers.  JRC OPPOSED this legislation over the past 2-3 years.  This bill allows county treasurers to collect a fee of $5 when collecting delinquent parking fines for a city or county.  The delinquent fines must be paid before issuing a vehicle registration.  This is part of the treasurers’ job and should not be an added tax for citizens.  Some counties are refusing to collect if they do not receive the $5 fee assessed to violators.

Interpreters and Translators:  An Act relating to interpreters for persons who are limited English proficient, deaf, deaf-blind, or hard-of-hearing in certain legal proceedings and court-ordered programs.  Currently, Iowa is not in compliance with federal law.  JRC SUPPORTED every year the courts have tried to move this.  We are not aware of the courts trying again, but if they do, we will be their ally.

24/7 Monitoring:  Certain counties in Iowa want a bill for an act providing for the establishment of county chemical substance abuse monitoring pilot programs and modifying temporary restricted license eligibility requirements for operating-while-intoxicated offenders.  This is known as the 24/7 monitoring program.  JRC has OPPOSED this legislation.  The Des Moines Register is lobbying the issue through articles and editorials.  JRC has serious concerns about the program and its selective use.

Risk Assessments:  An Act relating to domestic abuse and other offenses involving a domestic relationship, and providing penalties.  JRC OPPOSED this legislation in 2016.  The penalty relies heavily upon risk assessments in sentencing.  JRC believes that risk assessment usage in the sentencing process contains grave constitutional violations.

EQUALITY

Racial Profiling:  Legislation relating to law enforcement profiling by standardizing the collection and centralizing the compilation and reporting of officer stop and complaint data, providing for officer training, creating a community policing advisory board, providing for penalties and remedies, and including effective date provisions.  JRC SUPPORTED the bill requested by the NAACP, which was introduced in 2016.  We will support future attempts by the NAACP to advance this legislation.

Jury Lists:  Legislation requiring the master list for juror service to be updated using an electronic data processing system annually and eliminating jury commissions.  This was an issue that was recommended by the Governor’s Working Group on Justice Policy Reform.  JRC SUPPORTED the bill introduced in 2016.

Distracted Driving:  Changing the criteria for pulling someone over for texting/emailing while driving from the current secondary offense to one of making it a primary offense.  Our fear upon enactment is the possibility of it being a pretextual stop in the process of racial profiling.

WAR ON DRUGS

 Marijuana Possession:  Possession of marijuana is an issue that JRC has SUPPORTED in the past.  However, the specifics of a particular law bill may dictate the position as to whether JRC supports, opposes, or remains neutral.

Synthetic Drugs:  Bills relating to controlled substances, particularly those enhancing the penalties for imitation controlled substances, modifying the controlled substances listed in schedules I, III, and IV, and temporarily designating substances as controlled substances, and providing penalties.  The Iowa Pharmacy Board has pre-filed a bill.

First of all, the bill extended the time limit of designating a temporary controlled substance from the end of one general assembly to 2 years.  A two-year designation as temporary is far too long.

Second, JRC OPPOSES the bill based upon statements within a past Fiscal Note:

Synthetic Drugs The correctional impact is expected to be minimal due to the low number of convictions under current law.  Enhancing the penalties will increase the incarceration rate and lengthen the term of supervision, both in the state prison system and Community-Based Corrections (CBC).  Offenders convicted under the provisions of this bill will remain under supervision longer than current law.

Minority Impact: To the extent convictions occur under the provisions of the bill, there will be a minority impact, specifically to Blacks.  Blacks comprise approximately 3.4% of the Iowa population but represent approximately 27.3% of the convictions impacted under this bill.

The fiscal note points out (italicized emphasis above) that there will be very few convictions.  Yet, those convicted will serve enhanced penalties.  JRC opposes the enhancement of penalties where research is lacking as to whether the enhancement will serve a viable purpose.  It also points out that minorities will be heavily impacted by the provisions of this bill.

JRC may have to oppose these bills based upon language which was included in the past: adding vague language about risk assessments.

RE-ENTRY

Fair Chance Law:  Bills prohibiting employers and employment agencies from seeking the criminal record or criminal history from applicants for employment under certain circumstances, providing penalties, and including effective date provisions.  JRC SUPPORTED this legislation in 2016, most popularly known as the “Ban-The-Box Bill”, but more respectfully known as “The Fair Chance Act”.

 

Felon Voting Rights Video

Below is a video of a voting rights discussion sent in by Mike Cervantes of Inside OUT Reentry Program.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ljf1h-yxIws

News from the Department of Corrections

On Friday, January 6, the Iowa Board of Corrections approved two changes in wardens at Iowa prisons.  Patti Wachtendorf, who is currently the warden at Iowa Correctional Institute for Women at Mitchellville, will succeed Warden Nick Ludwick, who is retiring Jan. 31, at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison.

Sheryl Dahm, who is currently the warden at the Clarinda Correctional Facility, will replace Wachtendorf as the warden at Mitchellville.  No one was named to replace Dahm in Clarinda, according to Department of Corrections Director Jerry Bartruff, but Deputy Warden Stephen Weis will serve as acting warden until a new warden is named.

The Board also reviewed eight policy changes and will act on them at the next meeting.  Three of the policies are described to be confidential, the others are related to the administration of the department and work programs and work-related injuries.  Getting the Board to approve policy rather than having policy approved by the director was a huge accomplishment of JRC.

 

Please consider a generous contribution to help fund the activities of Justice Reform Consortium

I want to help Justice Reform Consortium with its goal of working toward restorative justice

Here is my contribution of $_______________________________

Submit your subscription payment to:

Jean Basinger

Justice Reform Consortium

c/o Trinity United Methodist Church

P.O. Box 41005

Des Moines, IA 50311

Name: ___________________________________________________________

Address:  ________________________________________________________

City:  ____________________________State__________Zip_______________

□ I would like to be recognized for my contribution in the JRC Newsletter.

□ I think I’ll remain anonymous.  Thank you. [Default]

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

IOWANS AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY

WILL MEET ON January 24, 2017 at 6:30 pm at

Grace United Methodist Church in Des Moines.

3700 Cottage Grove Ave, Des Moines, IA 50311

Dues are a minimum of $15 per year.  Checks may be made out to IADP and sent to:

IADP

P.O. Box 782

Des Moines, IA 50303

Those who have not attended a meeting are also encouraged to join.  We ask that you include an email address with the submission of their dues.

A tax-deductible gift may be made to the “IADP Fund”, but a contribution to the “Fund” will not make you a member.  Contributions to the IADP Fund” may be sent to the same P.O. Box in Des Moines.

Organizations’ dues are $50 per year.

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The next Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners meeting is at noon on Tues., January 17th at Wesley United Methodist Church, 800 East 12th.

 MISSION:  To bring together and inform individuals and groups concerned about women in the Iowa correctional system and to act on their behalf.

 FRIENDS OF IOWA WOMEN PRISONERS

PO Box 71272, Clive, IA  50325

email:  fiwp2011@gmail.com

website:  friendsofiowawomenprisoners.org

Bring your lunch.  The place and time are consistent throughout the year.  The meetings are always held on the third Tuesday of the month, and always held from noon to 1:00 pm at Wesley United Methodist Church located at 800 East 12th Street in Des Moines.  The location is a block west of East High School.  Please contact Vi for more information.

[1] https://www.wcl.american.edu/endsilence/documents/50StateSurvey-SSMLAWS2013Update.pdf

 

[2] On March 25, 2011, Megan Elizabeth Cecil, 32, a former Department of Correctional Services residential officer, was sentenced to two years probation on two counts of sexual misconduct and required to register as a sex offender. She had been charged with having sex with a male prisoner at the Burlington Men’s Residential Facility four times in March 2010. [See: PLN, June 2011, p.50]. According to court records, former Dallas County jailer Kevin Paul Hines, 60, pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct with an offender and was sentenced on June 10, 2011 to two years; he was also ordered to register as a sex offender and pay $1,599.02 in restitution. Hines had been arrested in 2009 for raping prisoner Tamera Poeschl three times in a temporary jail cell.

 

And several more examples.

 

JRC November 15, 2015 Newsletter

Vol. 6 #12 November 15, 2015

The More Things Change . . .

Newt Gingrich, President Obama, the Kock brothers, and Senator Chuck Grassley. These are just a few names of johnny-come-latelies in the effort to reform the sentencing structure of the American criminal justice system. We’re not going to say “we were here first”, because we weren’t. But Justice Reform Consortium has been seeking reforms since its inception in 2000. Where has everyone been?

JRC is the brainchild of the Rev. Carlos Jayne, former legislative advocate for the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Jean Basinger, an Iowa peace advocate. The two founded the consortium in 2000 by approaching several like-minded organizations that did not have the funds to hire a lobbyist for their respective organizations at the Iowa Capitol. The idea is to not have the JRC legislative advocate lobby for issues particular to an individual organization, but to join in an effort to influence legislation that is common to all the organizations.

Carlos said that JRC had a “natural connection to criminal justice and prison issues because of Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners (FIWP) and Iowa CURE (Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants)”. At the time, there was a lot of interest in sentencing reform on the part of several Judiciary Committee members in the House (Rep. Keith Kreiman, D-Bloomfield) and Senate (Sen. O. Gene Maddox, R-Clive). It appeared as though the time was right to work on sentencing reform, especially since the ill effects of the mid-1990s prison building experience was beginning to be noticed.

Legislators were grateful for the federal money given states to build new prisons for the exchange of enacting mandatory minimum sentences. After the prisons were built, but obviously not before, appropriations for maintaining those prisons skyrocketed. Something had to be done.

Carlos said that “we were beginning to establish credibility at meetings of the Board of Corrections and the Justice Systems Appropriations Subcommittee meetings.” Sentencing reform was a viable alternative to the rising costs of incarceration.

JRC began with membership of four organizations as members:  Criminal Justice Ministries; Iowa CURE; Restorative Justice Advocacy; and Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners.  Criminal Justice Ministries “decided they wanted to limit their services to hospitality” and depart from JRC’s mission of seeking sensible sentencing structure.  So, JRC made internal changes to continue lobbying rather than a focus on aftercare.

Today, JRC is made up of nineteen organizations, all with an interest in criminal justice.

Monetary contributions from like-minded individuals are also accepted and greatly appreciated.  Checks may be written to “Justice Reform Consortium” and sent to: Jean Basinger, Chair

Justice Reform Consortium

c/o Trinity United Methodist Church

P.O. Box 41005

Des Moines, IA 50311

JRC publishes a newsletter biweekly throughout the Iowa Legislative Session, and periodically during the interim. Newsletters are posted on the Consortium’s website: www.justicereformconsortium.org, or you may subscribe to the newsletter by sending an email address to:

Marty Ryan  marty@iowappa.comFawkes-Lee & Ryan Public Policy Advocates

 

Dennis Henderson Honored

At its annual meeting of membership organizations on October 22, JRC honored Dennis Henderson for his unselfish contributions to JRC, Urban Dreams, and the Des Moines Community.  Stephanie Fawkes-Lee presented the 2015 Justice Award, and Wayne Ford accepted on Dennis’ behalf.

Dennis Henderson has lobbied at the Iowa Capitol for the past 2 years representing the issues and concerns of the Justice Reform Consortium with an insight and understanding badly needed to give legislators a more balanced environment for decision making.  He stands out at the Capitol due to his positive attitude, charisma, natural inclusiveness and calm thoughtful support.

In addition to his work at the Capitol, Dennis recognizes the importance of redirecting youth before entering the downward spiral created by carrying a criminal record. Dennis has worked with youth to keep them connected to school and developing other interests such as urban gardens.  He has also volunteered to attend out-of-state conferences for one of Justice Reform Consortium’s organizations, Iowa Coalition 4 Juvenile Justice.

Justice Reform Consortium has reaped the rewards of Dennis Henderson’s vast knowledge of how the system really works and the challenges of recidivism prevention.  He helps to keep government agencies honest and accountable.

A video of Stephanie Fawkes-Lee’s presentation and Former State Representative Ford’s remarks may be viewed here.

NEXT ISSUE: What’s ahead for the 2016 Iowa Legislative Session

Selected links:

John Oliver explains mandatory minimum sentences: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDVmldTurqk&feature=iv&src_vid=USkEzLuzmZ4&annotation_id=annotation_3787281151

2015 Could be the Year for Mental Health Reform http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bobbie-brinegar/2015-could-be-the-year-fo_b_8016452.html?utm_source=August+2015+Observer&utm_campaign=Observer+December+2014&utm_medium=email Brinegar, Bobbie (Executive Director of OWL-The Voice of Women 40+). Huffington Post. AUGUST 20, 2015.

Local police are trying to convince drug dealers to turn each other in by pointing out that it reduces competition.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/07/us/form-for-drug-dealers-to-snitch-on-competitors-results-in-an-arrest.html KATIE ROGERS The New York Times. AUGUST 6, 2015.

Critics of Solitary Confinement Are Buoyed as Obama Embraces Their Cause.  An estimated 75,000 state and federal prisoners are held in solitary confinement in the United States. This is too many, President Obama argues. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/22/us/politics/critics-of-solitary-confinement-buoyed-as-obama-embraces-cause.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0 PETER BAKER and ERICA GOODE The New York Times. JULY 21, 2015.

Solitary Confinement: Punished for Life.  A lawsuit yields insights into the psychological harms of holding prisoners in isolation for years, sometimes decades. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/04/health/solitary-confinement-mental-illness.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0 ERICA GOODE The New York Times. AUG. 3, 2015.

Bipartisan Push Builds to Relax Sentencing Laws.  After years of resistance, Congress seems poised to revise federal policy that has greatly expanded the number of Americans who are incarcerated.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/29/us/push-to-scale-back-sentencing-laws-gains-momentum.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0 JENNIFER STEINHAUER   The New York Times.  JULY 28, 2015.

Glare of Video Is Shifting Public’s View of Police. The recording of encounters between the police and the public has begun to alter public views of the use of force and race relations, experts and police officials say.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/31/us/through-lens-of-video-a-transformed-view-of-police.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0 RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA and TIMOTHY WILLIAMS.  The New York Times. JULY 30, 2015.

Training Officers to Shoot First, and He Will Answer Questions Later. When police officers shoot people under questionable circumstances, William J. Lewinski often appears as an expert witness who says they had no choice but to fire.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/02/us/training-officers-to-shoot-first-and-he-will-answer-questions-later.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0. MATT APUZZO.  The New York Times. AUG. 1, 2015.

Please consider a generous contribution to help fund the activities of Justice Reform Consortium

I want to help Justice Reform Consortium with its goal of working toward restorative justice.

Here is my contribution of $________________________________

Submit your subscription payment to:

Jean Basinger

Justice Reform Consortium

c/o Trinity United Methodist Church

P.O. Box 41005

Des Moines, IA 50311

Name: ___________________________________________________________

Address: ________________________________________________________

City: ____________________________State__________Zip_______________

UPCOMING EVENTS

Voices to be Heard is a support group for families and children of an incarcerated loved one. The group gathers to support and comfort those who know too well the grief that comes to those left behind when someone they love is incarcerated. The group meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at Wesley United Methodist Church (800 East 12th St. in Des Moines) from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.  The group brings in speakers, performs outreach, provide support groups and leadership classes.  It is a good idea to contact Melissa ahead of time because the group provides dinner and a head count is preferred.  Contact Melissa at 515/229-2645 for more information.

 

The next Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners meeting is at noon on Tues., November 17th at Wesley United Methodist Church, 800 East 12th.

MISSION:  To bring together and inform individuals and groups concerned about women in the Iowa correctional system and to act on their behalf.

FIWP Mailing Address:  Post Office Box 71272, Clive, IA  50325

We welcome to our November meeting Iowa State University students, Lauren Iversen and Molly Murtha who will talk about landscaping projects they are working on at the new campus of Iowa Correctional Institution for Women.  The projects include the Multipurpose Outdoor Classroom, the Decompression Area for staff, the Healing Garden for Special Needs and the Production Garden Program.

UPCOMING MEETINGS & PRESENTERS

Next Month:  We welcome to the December meeting Jerry Bartruff, Director of the Department of Corrections.  Jerry was appointed Interim Director by the Governor upon the retirement of John Baldwin on January 28, 2015.  He was appointed Director on March 2, 2015 and confirmed by the Senate on April 8.

Jerry has worked in Iowa corrections for more than 32 years in various positions including:  Statewide Reentry Coordinator, Correctional Treatment Director, Treatment Services Director, Treatment Manager, Sex offender Treatment Provider, Correctional Counselor and Correctional Officer.

Bring your lunch.  The place and time are consistent throughout the year.  The meetings are always held on the third Tuesday of the month, and always held from noon to 1:00 pm at Wesley United Methodist Church located at 800 East 12th Street in Des Moines.  The location is a block west of East High School.  Please contact Vi for more information.

 

Justice Reform Consortium member organizations: ACLU of Iowa; American Friends Service Committee; Beacon of Life; Compassion, Peace, and Justice Taskforce, Des Moines Presbytery; Citizens for Undoing Racism-War on Drugs Task Force; Des Moines Chapter of WILPF; Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners; Iowa Annual Conference, UMC; Iowa CURE; Iowa Coalition 4 Juvenile Justice; Iowa-Nebraska Chapter of the NAACP; Iowa NOW and Des Moines NOW; Methodist Federation for Social Action; National Association of Social Workers; Plymouth Congregational Church, Board of Christian Social Action; Trinity United Methodist Church; Urban Dreams; and Voices to be Heard.

This newsletter published by: Fawkes-Lee & Ryan, Public Policy Advocates http://iowappa.com/

Copyright © 2015.  You may copy, download and print the information in this newsletter provided you do so in an unaltered manner, with full copyright acknowledgement and website link.  This newsletter may also be found online in PDF format at:  http://justicereformconsortium.org/?page_id=19

Distributing this newsletter, or any part thereof, for commercial use is prohibited.

 

HSB 524 – enhancing the use of DNA

House Study Bill 524 (HSB 524) is a bill that will include the conviction of an aggravated misdemeanor as a crime that requires the defendant to submit a DNA sample for DNA profiling. Currently, those offenders who have committed a felony and an aggravated misdemeanor that is a sex crime are required to submit a sample.

An amendment, adopted by the subcommittee, allows for the expungement of a DNA record from the state’s DNA database if the person requests it. In order for the expungement to occur, the person must have been convicted of a non-sex-related aggravated misdemeanor, or received a deferred judgment; gone ten years without another aggravated misdemeanor or greater offense; and paid all restitution, fines, and costs assessed in the aggravated misdemeanor.

JRC still opposes the bill. Please call your representative, especially if your representative is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and ask him/her to oppose HSB 524.

It’s That Time of Year

The 2012 Legislative session begins on Monday, January 9. We have already sifted through the prefiled bills and can tell you that this session will not be much different from the previous ones when it comes to government’s desire to lock more people up in the pokey.

Here are some titles of the prefiled bills:

Child Pornography (5149DP) – Attorney General (Department of Justice)

DNA Submissions by Aggravated Misdemeanors (5148DP) – Attorney General (Department of Justice)

Arrest Warrants, Confidentiality (5322DP) – Department of Corrections

Sexual Abuse by Correctional Employees (5324DP) – Department of Corrections (JRC will be supporting this measure, strongly.)

Presentence Investigations, Validated Risk Assessments (5294DP) – Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy

DNA Profiling of Offenders (5306DP) – Department of Public Safety

Operating While Intoxicated, Implied Consent and Chemical Testing (5308DP) – Department of Public Safety