March 31, 2014 Newsletter

Vol. 5 #6 March 31, 2014

Weather Delay

The Justice Reform Consortium is sent out on Sunday evenings, usually. However, because Sunday was such a beautiful day in Des Moines, we delayed the timing in order to enjoy the wonderful spring day for as long as it lasted.

Full Circle

The following clip is a video of the debate in the Iowa House of Representatives that shows two representatives from opposite sides of the political continuum coming together to oppose a bill that epitomizes Big Brother’s presence in Iowa.

http://coolice.legis.iowa.gov/Cool-ICE/default.asp?Category=Billinfo&Service=ArchiveBill&vid=1000&offset=7282&iDate=2014-03-26&hbill=HF475

House File 475 is on its way to the governor’s office. The bill will allow a peace officer to obtain a warrant to “place, track, monitor, or remove” a Global Positioning System (GPS) to a

“person, place, or thing”. Justice Reform Consortium opposed this bill.

Currently, the only authority to obtain a search warrant to attach or position a GPS on a vehicle, person, or anything else that moves, is a special agent from the Iowa Department of Public Safety. It should have remained that way. We envision a rash of abuse with this new expansion. Reps. Larry Sheets (R-Moulton) and Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines) say it well. Thanks!

Justice System Appropriations Bill House File 2450

The headline above is a link which will direct you to the 2014 Justice System Appropriations Bill that has been passed out of the House Appropriations Committee. A large portion of the bill appropriates money for the Department of Corrections. The following is a statement directly from the Executive Summary of the Legislative Service Agency – Fiscal Division’s NOBA (Notes on Bills & Amendments):

 

General Fund increase of $1.0 million compared to estimated FY 2014 due to: $216,000 increase to fully fund the reception center at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women at Mitchellville. $641,000 decrease to eliminate the FY 2014 one-time costs associated with renovating space at Fort Madison to house minimum-security offenders and opening the Community-Based Corrections (CBC) residential facility in Ottumwa. $317,000 increase to replace expired federal funds for Drug Courts in the First and Sixth CBC District Departments. $948,000 increase to supervise the increasing number of sex offenders on special sentences under community supervision in all eight of the CBC District Departments. $176,000 increase to comply with requirements of the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).

 

Permits up to $500,000 of the FY 2014 General Fund appropriation to the Department of Corrections (DOC) for the Fort Madison Correctional Facility to carry forward to FY 2015. The funds are to be used for demolishing the existing bunk house at the new Iowa State Penitentiary and the remodeling of the relocated John Bennett Unit. The DOC is replacing the John Bennett Unit by converting the existing Clinical Care Unit to a minimum-security facility. This Section is effective on enactment

Selected links:

 

The Des Moines Register’s Editorial: Inmates face egregious debit fees: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/2014/03/30/inmates-face-egregious-debit-fees/7059491/

 

Andie Dominick (Register editorial writer): Living in an Iowa prison is expensive: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/03/30/living-iowa-prison-expensive/7059997/

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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., April 15th 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 April 15th speaker will be Rita Bettis, Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa. Prior to becoming legal director, she worked as both legislative director and staff attorney at the ACLU of Iowa for two years. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa College of Law, where she was editor in chief of the international law journal Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems. As a law student, she clerked for the national ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights, and the immigrant advocacy organization Justice For Our Neighbors.

 

Bettis has been published on the subject of the Iraqi Refugee Crisis and was the recipient of the Philip G. Hubbard Human Rights Award and the University of Iowa Public Interest Law Award. Rita is licensed to practice law in Iowa, New York, and Louisiana. Her most notable case is the ACLU’s ongoing lawsuit against the Iowa Secretary of State, in which the ACLU recently obtained a temporary injunction stopping the purging of the voter registration rolls of alleged non-citizen voters.

Rita will give us an update on shackling and juvenile lifers.
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 Vifor 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.

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