February 16 Newsletter

Vol. 5 #3 February 16, 2014

Language Bill Gets A Second Chance

 

Last year, a bill that would help pay the costs for interpreters and translators in civil and criminal cases before Iowa courts died in a subcommittee meeting. This year, the legislation gets a new life in the Senate. Senate Study Bill 3026 moved out of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Thursday (Feb. 13) and passed unanimously out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the same day. It will be renumbered as a Senate File in the coming week and is eligible for debate in the Senate soon thereafter.

The legislation will bring Iowa into compliance with the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) guidance. It will ensure that interpreter and translator services are provided for all Limited English Proficient (LEP) court participants in legal proceedings without charging interpreter and translator fees back to those participants as is the practice now. The USDOJ has interpreted the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on national origin (and race or ethnicity), to mean that all organizations that receive federal funds (including the Iowa courts) must provide competent interpreter services to limited English proficient (LEP) participants in their programs. Any recipient of federal funds that fails to comply with the USDOJ requirements could lose its federal funding. In the long run, the cost of noncompliance could be more than it cost to fund this legislation.

SSB 3026 will direct the Iowa courts to pay for court interpreters in all types of court proceedings and pre-disposition court-ordered programs (e.g., mediation, Children in the Middle class for parents in a dissolution of marriage case), regardless of case type or economic status of the LEP participant and without charging interpreter fees back to the party or parties.

Appropriations for this bill are a concern to a couple of senators. However, Senator Tom Courtney (D-Burlington), who is also co-chair of the Joint Subcommittee on Justice Systems, said that he would find the money to fund the bill. The total cost of the program is estimated to be approximately $633,000, but the total cost is not absolute. During the past fiscal year, the State Public Defender paid $300,000 to interpreters; the courts paid approximately $155,000. John Goerdt, Deputy State Court Administrator, provided information to the subcommittee that “new” money needed would be approximately $333,000. Mr. Goerdt said that “the state already absorbs about $410,000 per year (i.e., without reimbursement) of the $455,000 paid by the state for court interpreters.

During the Senate Committee meeting, Sen. Courtney presented an impassioned case about how this legislation is essential to the economic development efforts of the state. He pointed out that as the governor and local governments persuade foreign corporations to relocate or expand in Iowa, the ability of the Iowa courts to provide qualified translators and interpreters is an added benefit to the persuasion. Executives and their families, particular experts, and essential foreign corporate employees will desire Iowa’s ability to provide proper and certified translations of court documents and proceedings. The measure is an added bonus in negotiations.

Please contact your state senator and urge your senator to support this legislation.

Getting Rid of Lengthy Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Juveniles

Senate Study Bill 3146 passed out of subcommittee this week and will be considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. SSB 3146 is a bill written in consultation with the ACLU of Iowa that addresses the collective opinions with Roper, Graham, Miller, Bonilla, Null, Pearson, and Ragland. It will be amended before passing out of the Senate Judiciary.

The County Attorneys and Attorney General want some changes to the bill. Black Hawk County Attorney Tom Ferguson listed four concerns. 1) SSB 3146 currently does not provide any option for “life without parole”, which remains an option for courts under Miller only after an individualized sentencing hearing and only in homicide cases, albeit it is an option the Court has admonished “is appropriate, if at all, only in rare or uncommon cases;” 2) the bill provides uncertainty for victim survivors; 3) Senate File 288, enacted last year, provided some language to address the matter of prohibiting mandatory minimum sentence for juveniles (Pearson); and 4) the county attorneys do not like the retroactivity provision at the end of the bill.

We are willing to make a change to the bill that will allow a judge to sentence a juvenile to life without the possibility of parole after an individualized sentencing hearing where the court considers the factors laid out in Miller. In doing so, the bill may have to be amended to spell out the requirements of sentencing that the Iowa Supreme Court enumerated in Null, finding an independent basis under the Iowa Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment to apply to the holdings of Roper, Graham, and Miller. The Iowa Supreme Court provided clear instruction that the district courts to consider the following:

Culpability – Mitigating factors: The court “must recognize that because ‘children are constitutionally different from adults,’ they ordinarily cannot be held to the same standard of culpability as adults in criminal sentencing.” If a district court judge believes that an exception exists in a particular case, she “should make findings discussion why the general rule does not apply. This must go beyond a “mere recitation of the nature of the crime,” and characteristics inherent to youth, including “immaturity, impetuosity, and the poor risk management,” must be regarded as mitigating, not aggravating factors.

Capable of change: The court “must recognize that ‘juveniles are more capable of change than are adults’ and that as a result, ‘their actions are less likely to be evidence of irretrievably depraved character.” “Further, the district court must recognize that most juveniles who engage in criminal activity are not destined to become lifelong criminals.

Appropriateness of length of sentence: The court “should recognize that a lengthy prison sentence without the possibility of parole such as that involved . . . is appropriate, if at all, only in rare or uncommon cases.”

Specific factors under Miller: Last, as cited by the Iowa Supreme Court case Ragland, specific factors the court must consider at the sentencing hearing in the case of a homicide include: (1) the “chronological age” of the youth and the features of youth, including “immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences”; (2) the “family and home environment” that surrounded the youth; (3) “the circumstances of the homicide offense, including the extent of [the youth’s] participation in the conduct and the way familial and peer pressures may have affected [the youth]”; (4) the “incompetencies associated with youth—for example, [the youth’s] inability to deal with police officers or prosecutors (including on plea agreement) or [the youth’s] incapacity to assist [the youth’s] own attorneys”; and (5) “the possibility of rehabilitation.” Miller at 423.

Thanks to Rita Bettis of the ACLU of Iowa for providing these bullets

Senator Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids), the bill’s floor manager and Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said that he is going to add additional requirements, including a provision that will relate to whether the defendant shows remorse. Hopefully, these additional provisions will address the concerns of victims without undermining the constitutional mandate of the factors enumerated by our U.S. and Iowa Supreme Courts. The County Attorneys have raised the yearly parole hearing as an argument against a constitutional sentencing scheme. We agree that victims should not have to relive the event every year. A person who is eligible for parole must have a review each year, the process for most amounts to nothing more than Parole Board members looking at a file and rejecting the opportunity for an in-person interview.

Additionally, in Null, the Iowa Supreme Court itself already eloquently addressed and ultimately rejected the argument that the constitutional rule would deprive victims of certainty:

Some have suggested a lack of “certainty” in our disposition. The demand for certainty, however, is a double-edged sword. In Miller, as here, more certainty could have been achieved by a categorical approach—one saying that life without parole or its equivalent can never be imposed on a juvenile offender. Categorical or rule-based solutions may have the advantage of clarity, but they also have a countervailing disadvantage, namely, that they limit case-by-case consideration of facts that might be crucial to a satisfactory outcome. In other words, categorical rules are almost always overinclusive, underinclusive, or both. The teaching of Miller is that the assumption that juveniles should be treated as adults for the purposes of life-without-parole sentences is dramatically overinclusive and constitutionally unacceptable. At the same time, Miller declined to adopt the opposite rule-based approach, namely, that juveniles can never be subject to life in prison without parole. We utilize the Miller approach in this case.

Further, slippery-slope arguments, like arguments seeking certainty, are two-way streets. Frederick Schauer, Slippery Slopes, 99 Harv. L. Rev. 361, 381 (1985) (“[I]n virtually every case in which a slippery-slope argument is made, the opposing party could with equal formal and linguistic logic also make a slippery slope claim.”). One could plausibly employ a slippery-slope argument to suggest the elimination of the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clauses of the State and Federal Constitutions by deferring to other branches of government.

While we do not concede that the exception would be consistent with the Iowa Constitution, we are willing to drop provisions in the bill that pertain to habitual offenders for now. A person who is sentenced as a habitual offender is not eligible for parole until the person has served a minimum of three years.

SF 288, enacted last year, does not address the Pearson concerns related to mandatory minimums as the county attorneys claim. SF 288 is a bill that relates to matters associated with Youthful Offenders. The Iowa Code Section relating to Youthful Offenders is rarely used. In any case, there is a bill that is currently active in the Legislature that amends the provisions of SF 288.

The concern of retroactivity is decided already. Bonilla, Null, Pearson, and Ragland have been decided previously with retroactive implications. Persons given sentences that are illegal under the Constitution are already immediately eligible for resentencing. But this bill would give the courts the guidance it needs to resentence in a constitutionally permissible manner.

With JRC and allies offering changes in the bill, it should be able to move through the legislative process with ease. This legislation is a significant trailblazing model that will prevent numerous lawsuits in the coming years, it will give judges direction, and more importantly, it will put bad actors away for life while allowing those with regret and remorse a positive outlook at preparing for the future with a “meaningful opportunity for release.”

Interesting Tidbits

Sitting in on a meeting of the Legislature’s Joint Subcommittee on the Justice System can often reveal information that is not otherwise widely distributed. Legislators asked questions about the Iowa Department of Corrections to representatives of the IDOC at its Tuesday, February 4 meeting. Some interesting answers were given to the Committee on Thursday, Feb. 6. Below are a few of those statistics.

  • In Fiscal Year 2013, 16.7% of offenders entered the prison system without a high school equivalent or GED [The GED in Iowa is now called the HiSET, a national high school equivalency testing program]. In FY 2013, 15.1% of offenders leaving prison had no diploma or equivalent.
  • “During FY 2013, 112 of the 113 assaults on staff were committed by mentally ill offenders.” An assault includes the act of throwing substances (ketchup, feces, urine, spit, gravy, etc.) on a correctional officer.
  • “The DOC requires all staff complete a two-day training [class] on Mental Illness especially focused on Biological Basis of Mental Illness and Categories of Mental Illness. Training also focuses on de-escalation techniques, crisis management, coping mechanisms and how to take care of oneself to alleviate stress. This if followed with and annual e-Learning module that is mandatory for all staff.”
  • The Department reports that the “Statewide DOC Avg Daily Cost” per offender is $83.69.

Selected links:

“Re-thinking The “Steel Door Solution”

http://www.thecrimereport.org/news/inside-criminal-justice/2014-02-steel-door-solution-fades-as-states-put-fewer-inmate Gest, Ted. The Crime Report

 

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Jean Basinger

Justice Reform Consortium

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Des Moines, IA 50311

 

 

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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 Union Park Methodist Church (East 12th & Guthrie 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., February 18th 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

Our February 18th presenter will be Marty Ryan who will bring us up to date on the 2014 legislative session.

 

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

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

Copyright © 2014. 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 and at: http://iowappa.com/?page_id=407

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February Newsletter

Vol. 5 #2 February 2, 2014

Electronic Recording of Custodial Interviews

“The electronic recording of police interviews with criminal suspects is an efficient and powerful law enforcement tool. It has been done for years by many police agencies large and small throughout the United States. Their experiences have been uniformly positive.” Sullivan, Thomas P. Police Experiences With Recording Custodial Interviews. Northwestern University School of Law – Center on Wrongful Convictions. Number 1, Summer 2004. The Sioux City, Iowa Police Department has been videotaping custodial interviews consistently for twenty-five years, so why is it that some Iowa law enforcement entities represented at the Iowa Capitol, and county attorneys are opposed to House Study Bill 572?

HSB 572 is a proposal that will require an interview with a suspect at a place of detention, “including the giving of any required warning, advice of the rights of the individual being questioned, and the waiver of any rights by the individual,” to be recorded electronically in its entirety. This requirement applies to any crime and also to delinquent acts.

It is difficult to understand the irony of justifying speed cameras and red light cameras, but perversely hesitating to embrace the accuracy and reliability of videotaping an interview with a suspect.

A subcommittee meeting will be held on this bill during the week of February 3rd. This isn’t the first time legislation dealing with this matter has been discussed in a subcommittee meeting. The issue has been around far too long. We anticipate the opposition; we can’t imagine why. Law enforcement should want the evidence that a videotaped recording can provide.

DOC January Board Meeting

Reported by Jean Basinger

The January Board meeting of the Iowa Board Of Corrections was held at Department of Corrections Central Office following the annual Iowa Corrections Association breakfast on the Hill. All Board members were present. There was an election of a new Chair and Co-Chair. The Rev. Michael Coleman was elected Chair and, to say that he was delighted would be an understatement. Sheryl Griffith was elected Co-Chair. This is interesting in that her term expires this year.

Once again this month the “earned time” issue was on the agenda and William Hill of the AG’s office gave a very clear presentation regarding how “earned time” is currently figured, with several clear examples. The reason for his and the last meeting’s presentation on this issue is because the IDOC is expecting legislation that will change who is eligible for “earned time.” It is assumed this has to do with Kathlynn’s Law, which is now under consideration by the Legislature as introduced by Rep. Chip Baltimore (R-Boone). The study bill, HSB 501, will eliminate “earned time” for certain sex offenders.

The other item on the agenda was the review of the 6th District Department of Correctional Services Audit and focused on the relationship of the District and the Community Corrections Improvement Corporation. In the document provided to the District, a number of concerns were listed. I believe Latrice Lacy has a fairly accurate list.

Nancy Turner asked why the BOC members had not been made aware of this problem. Director Baldwin’s reply indicated that it wouldn’t be good if the details got out in the public. Board Chair Rev. Coleman may have attended one of the meetings with the auditors. My observation of John’s presentation was that he was trying to distance the DOC from these activities of the District and the Corporation.

The question with which I was left was: how could the IDOC have not known that employees of the Corporation were being treated as state employees? How could they not have known that they were able to enroll in the state insurance plan, etc?

According to a letter from Director Baldwin, “The IDOC will provide any assistance that the 6th District requires and 6th District can bill the IDOC for this financial review.”

From the Legislative Services Agency – Fiscal Division – Fiscal Update, January 28, 2014. https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/FU/2014/24599/24599.pdf

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS PREA UNIT

PREA. The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003(PREA) is a federal law aimed at eliminating sexual violence in both adult and juvenile facilities. The rules went into effect August 20, 2012, for this federal law. The federal law and rules have many standards that the Department of Corrections (DOC) is required to meet for adult and juvenile offenders. The PREA requires housing separate from the general population for offenders less than18 years of age sentenced as adults.

PREA UNIT. The DOC created a PREA Unit at the Anamosa State Penitentiary in FY 2014 to house juveniles sentenced as adults. The 31-bed PREA Unit was created using existing space in a vacant housing unit. The PREA Unit opened January 6, 2014, with 13 offenders. Any juvenile offenders sentenced to State prison in the future will be admitted to the reception center at the Iowa Medical Classification Center at Oakdale for processing, and then transferred to the PREA Unit at the Anamosa State Penitentiary.

Female Offenders. The DOC does not currently have any female offenders under age 18. The DOC indicates that if it does receive a juvenile female offender sentenced to State prison, it will explore placing her out of state.

STAFF CONTACT: Beth Lenstra (515-281-6301) beth.lenstra@legis.iowa.gov

 

TOLEDO JUVENILE HOME CLOSURE

Closure Announced. On December 9, 2013, the Department of Human Services (DHS) announced the closure of the Juvenile Home and Girls State Training School in Toledo by the end of January 2014.

Background. The Juvenile Home and Training School provides a specialized structured setting to evaluate and treat youth between 12 and 18 years of age, determined by the juvenile justice system to require specialized structured program care, evaluation, and/or treatment due to numerous out-of-home placements, disruptive behavior, and extensive involvement in the system. Males and females judged Children in Need of Assistance (CINA) by the Iowa court system are admitted to the Iowa Juvenile Home. Females judged delinquent are admitted to the State Training School for Girls. At full capacity, the Juvenile Home and Training School can serve 57 youth and employ 114 FTE positions. For FY 2014, the Juvenile Home and Training School has a $10.5 million General Fund appropriation. When closure started there were 21 girls served on the campus by 93 employees.

Current Funding Status. The Governor is recommending a reduction of $8.1 million for FY 2015 to reflect the closure of the Toledo facility. The remaining $789,000 of the FY 2015 operating budget is to be used for maintenance of the grounds, security, and utilities. In addition, $3.9 million is recommended for placement of CINA and juvenile delinquents and $1.2 million for education of CINA youth and juvenile delinquents.

Placements. As of January 7, 2014, three youth remained on the Toledo campus. Since July 1, 2013, there have been 46 discharges from the Facility; none were out-of-state placements. Examples of post-Facility placements include group care (Four Oaks, Clarinda Academy, Quakerdale, Children and Families of Iowa, Lutheran Services of Iowa, Hillcrest, and House of Mercy), detention centers (Central Iowa Detention, Linn County Detention, and Scott County Detention), youth shelters (Foundation Two, Four Oaks, Youth Shelter Care of North Central Iowa, and Youth Emergency Shelter and Services), Psychiatric Medical Institution for Children (Four Oaks), foster family homes, independent living, waiver homes (Optimae), mental health institutions (Cherokee Mental Health Institute), and the Eldora State Training School.

Layoffs. Layoffs were effective January 15, 2014. Former employees are eligible to continue to receive support and services through the Iowa Employee Assistance Program and Iowa Workforce Development.

STAFF CONTACT: Estelle Montgomery (515-281-6764) estelle.montgomery@legis.iowa.gov

Click here to read the Task Force Findings & Recommendations.

 

 

 

Selected links:

In the Sunday New York Times: Kristof, Nicholas. 3 Enemas Later, Still No Drugs

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/26/opinion/sunday/kristof-3-enemas-later-still-no-drugs.html

New York Times, Kelle, Bill. America on Probation www.nytimes.com/2014/01/27/opinion/keller-america-on-probation.html

Can you afford to send us $25? $50? $100?

We are grateful for your generous contributions. Thanks!

 

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

Everyone wants to reduce the gross racial and ethnic disparities in the youth justice system — but with a problem so big, where can advocates even start?

To help answer that question, National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) is hosting a webinar featuring Dana Shoenberg and Tiana Davis from the Center for Children’s Law and Policy. During this 90-minute webinar, they’ll discuss racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system and how use of data can help drive reform efforts.

When: Feb. 12, 2014, 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm CST / 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm EST.

To learn more and register: http://bit.ly/1czcqqd

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 Union Park Methodist Church (East 12th & Guthrie 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., February 18th 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

Our February 18th presenter will be Marty Ryan who will bring us up to date on the 2014 legislative session.

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

This newsletter published by:

Fawkes-Lee & Ryan, Public Policy Advocates http://iowappa.com/

Copyright © 2014. 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 and at: http://iowappa.com/?page_id=407

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

UNSUBSCRIBE INSTRUCTIONS: Simply reply to this message with the word “Unsubscribe” in the subject box.