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.



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:

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


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.—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.


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.


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).

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.

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.


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.


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.


 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.


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.

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.


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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:


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.


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.


PO Box 71272, Clive, IA  50325



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.



[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.


Juvenile Records Sealing Day

The Drake Legal Clinic and Middleton Center for Children’s Rights is sponsoring a “Juvenile Records Sealing Day” on Saturday, March 2nd from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.

Anyone who is 18 or older and has a juvenile record may be eligible to have the record sealed. The information regarding record sealing is free and meetings with staff are confidential.

The Drake Legal Clinic is located at 2400 University Avenue in Des Moines (the southwest corner of 24th & University).

Call Ronnie Hawkins at (515) 271-3857.

Please pass this information on.

Having a criminal record is a big deal. Getting a juvenile record sealed is a big deal.

The longer someone waits to get a record sealed the more potential harm there is.



Iowa CURE Legislative Workshop







WHAT: Learn how to design a criminal justice advocacy plan that fits your lifestyle and personality

WHO: This workshop is sponsored by Iowa CURE (Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants), but is open to anyone who feels there is a need for change in the Iowa criminal justice system.

COST: Free (There will be a free-will offering basket for contributions to cover workshop expenses)

LEADERS: Marty Ryan and Stephanie Fawkes-Lee, Legislative Advocates for the Justice Reform Consortium will be our leaders. They have many years of experience in working with our legislators.

The workshop will last approximately 1-½ hours followed by coffee and refreshments. Area legislators will be invited to attend the latter part of the program.


You will receive valuable information, which includes a legislative agenda for 2013, as well as basic lobbying information about how the legislature works.

Please contact Marty Ryan at to let him know that you are coming so that he may prepare an appropriate amount of written materials.

If you are a member of the Iowa CURE community inside the walls of an Iowa prison, PLEASE share this information with your family and friends. Together we can make a difference. We need to come together and plan how we can work for a prison system based on restorative justice (making things as right as possible for everyone touched by crime).

Planning Committee Members:

Carolyn Walker Uhlenhake,

Mary Kay Dial,

Sr. JoAnne Talarico


Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners to Meet


MISSION: To bring together and inform Individuals and groups

concerned about women in the Iowa correctional system

and to act on their behalf.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

12:00-1:00 p.m.

Wesley United Methodist Church

800 E. 12th Street

Des Moines, IA 50316-4304






Treasurer’s Report – Rosemary Jungmann

ICIW Report – Warden Patti Wachtendorf



Our August program features Broadlawns Medical Center, its services to those reentering society from prison followed by a tour of the hospital at 2:00p.m. We welcome speakers Betty Spratt, Broadlawns Supervisor of Financial Counseling and Janet Metcalf, current member of Broadlawns Board of Trustees and former member of the Iowa House of Representatives for 18 years.

Ms. Spratt has worked in the financial side of health care since 1982. She started her career in a private for-profit hospital in Los Alamitos, California and moved to Iowa in July of 1989. She has worked for Broadlawns Medical Center since August 1, 1989. It has been her pleasure to work with thousands of patients/clients in helping them enroll in many different public State funded assistance programs for health care. She has found this to be a very rewarding and fulfilling experience. She enjoys her job and the people she works with and helps.

Janet Metcalf is a graduate of Iowa State University, former business owner and past president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa. She enjoys serving on the Broadlawns Board of Trustees, on which she has served as Chair. She currently serves as chair of the Governing Committee and of the Government Relations and Advisory Council. She is proud of the improvements made in the Medical Center in the past few years.

In the Iowa House of Representatives she served as chair of several committees including: Commerce and Regulation, State Government, Administrative Rules Review, Economic Development Appropriations Sub-committee and the Iowa Legislature’s Women’s Caucus.

Following our meeting Mikki Stier, Senior Vice President of Government, External Relations and Foundation will provide a tour of Broadlawns Medical Center, 1801 Hickman Road, at 2:00p.m. It will last about 30 minutes. Those interested should enter through the main entrance and meet Ms. Stier at the Information desk.

Incarceration’s Forgotten Victims Conference – Children of Prisoners

Sponsored by Child & Family Policy Center &

Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents

Incarceration’s Forgotten Victims Conference –

Children of Prisoners

August 24, 2012;

9:15 am to noon

Central Library Campus, 1000 Grand Ave., Des Moines, Iowa 50309

Cost to participants: $30.00, plus tax and registration fee

To reserve your seat register at:

Keynote Speaker

Charity Lee – ELLA foundation

Charity’s father was murdered when she was 6. Her mother was arrested, charged, briefly incarcerated, tried, and acquitted of murder-for-hire. In February of 2007, her son, Paris, sexually assaulted, beat, choked, and stabbed his little sister, Ella. He pled guilty to capital murder. Paris was 13; Ella was 4. The ELLA Foundation™, the “child” born of her pain, works to bring healing and empowerment to victim, perpetrators, and their families, advocates against the death penalty, and advocates for compassion for children and families of the incarcerated. After years of trauma, Charity has learned, “Love is the only weapon we should use to make the world a better place.

Other Speakers

Dr. Charles Bruner -Child & Family Policy Center, Executive Director, will share stats and policy on the incarcerated as well as the children of incarcerated

Joy De Somber -Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents

When her husband was arrested for a double homicide, Joy asked her children to write about their feelings. This action led to the book What Did I Do, Stories from the Hearts of Children Whose Parents are Incarcerated.

Ben Easter – Actor, Professional Photographer and Philanthropist will share his Photographic Exhibit of children with a parent in prison. Ben was touched by the children he photographed for dsm magazine and has since donated his time to create the exhibit that will travel around Iowa’s Art Museums.

ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). Presentation on how to negate some of the devastating consequences of ACEs

Voices to be Heard: testimony on what the twice monthly meetings mean to families of the incarcerated and news about the expansion of Voices to be Heard Chapters

Sign up now. Limited seating.


Two events nearing

REMINDER: The Fourth Annual Winner’s Circle Picnic is this Saturday, July 14 at Ashby Park, 3200 38th Street SE, Des Moines, from 11am to 3pm. The pot luck picnic (meat provided) is for women who have been thru the STAR and WISH programs at ICIW and their guests, including FIWP. Women from the minimum live-out unit will be attending as well as Winner’s Circles from around the state.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

12:00-1:00 p.m.

Wesley United Methodist Church

800 E. 12th Street

Des Moines, IA 50316-4304






Treasurer’s Report – Rosemary Jungmann

ICIW Report – Warden Patti Wachtendorf


We welcome Kim Gunnes as the presenter of our July program. Kim regularly attends Friends meetings. We’ve heard bits and pieces of her work with the women at ICIW as a teacher from Planned Parenthood, now we’ll hear more details.

Kim has worked in the social services for 18 years, with a focus on the issues of homelessness, youth advocacy and empowerment, gender specific services and sexual health. She received her BA from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and moved to Iowa as a VISTA Volunteer. She has worked for Broadlawns Homeless Outreach, Beacon of Life and the Young Women’s Resource Center. She is currently an educator with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

Kim subscribes to a holistic approach to sexuality education and implements interactive and creative strategies to her work. She always strives to weave a thread of fun throughout her groups and presentations, believing that is how we learn best.

We look forward to her presentation.

A Mentoring Program for those Returning from Prison

Recidivism rates for those returning to their community after time in prison are greatly reduced if the individual has positive family support. When this support is not available, other individuals or groups can make the difference in the success or failure in “making it” on the outside.

Plymouth Church’s Board of Christian Social Action is planning a training program for individuals on how to provide mentoring for men and women returning from prison. Initially, a two hour informational meeting on this program will be held THIS SATURDAY, March 17, 9:00 AM at Plymouth Church, 4120 Ingersoll Avenue, Des Moines. On April 14 a full day of mentor training will be provided for those who decide they are interested in being a part of this important program.

For information contact Allen Vander Linden 515/266-7638

Two Upcoming Events on Tuesday

On Tuesday, February 21, Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners will meet from noon to 1:00 pm at Wesley United Methodist Church, 800 East 12th Street in Des Moines. The meetings are open to the public and there is no cost associated with attending. Bring your lunch and listen to Marty Ryan, Legislative Advocate for Justice Reform Consortium, give an update on legislative bills that affect those incarcerated in Iowa’s correctional facilities.

Later that evening, Marty Ryan will also speak to those in attendance at Voices to Be Heard, 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.

Both Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners and Voices to Be Heard are group members of Justice Reform Consortium.