March 27 [Easter Sunday] Newsletter

JRC’s Legislative Agenda for 2016

The following bills remain alive and are eligible for debate at any time from now through the end of the session:

SF 2116 – This is a synthetic drugs bill.  We’re going to see one of these bills every session as long as chemists can determine which molecule to alter/delete/add so that the ban on one specific combination of molecules provides the same unrealistic adventure as its grandfather, without being specifically banned.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill.  SF 2116 passed the Senate on Feb. 22 by a vote of 49-0.  It is on the Unfinished Business Calendar in the House.

SF 2185 – This bill extends the scope of criminal trespass to include trespass that violates a “person’s expectation of privacy”.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill.  Lacking a Fiscal Note, which would provide estimates on the number of convictions expected, we believe that the number of persons charged and convicted of this crime to be very minimal. It passed the Senate 50-0 on Feb. 24. It is on the Unfinished Business Calendar in the House.

SF 2061 – This bill is a response to the Iowa Supreme Court case State v. Young, 863 N.W.2d 249 (2015)(Amended July 17, 2015.)  In Young, the Court held that “a misdemeanor defendant has a right to the assistance of counsel when the defendant faces the possibility of imprisonment.”  Like everyone else, JRC is “UNDECIDED” on the bill.  SF 2016 passed the Senate 48-0 on Feb. 22.  It was amended and passed the House 96-1 on March 15. Because it was amended, it now goes back to the Senate for its approval on the new language.

HF 2333 – This measure would change the process of how consent decrees in juvenile delinquency cases are created.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill. HF 2333 passed the House 96-0 on March 2.  It has been placed on the Senate’s Unfinished Business Calendar

HF 2385 – This bill makes illegal dumping a serious misdemeanor, as it passed the House.  Currently, the act of illegal dumping is subject to a civil fine of up to $1,000.  Other provisions in this bill (determining which entity receives money from the fines) place this legislation is precarious position.  JRC “OPPOSES” this legislation for a couple of reasons.  See Alice’s Restaurant JRC Newsletter,  Vol. 7 #5.  In the previous newsletter, we claimed that “On March 8, the bill was returned to the Committee, which effectively choked its chances of being enacted this year.”  That is incorrect.  The bill had passed the House earlier by a vote of 71-26 on March 2.  The Senate amended the bill and passed it 47-0 on March 22.  Because it was amended, it must pass the House one more time with the Senate’s language, which is a substantial improvement.  It changes the criminal penalties back to the civil penalties that exist now.

The following bills have passed both chambers and await the governor’s attention:

SF 2115 – The legislation will add “jailers” to the list of professions that may be the subject of a charge of “interference with official acts”.  We “OPPOSE” this measure.  It disproportionately punishes the mentally ill and intoxicated.  During a previous session, a bill with similar language had a Fiscal Note attached that projected a disproportionate minority impact: “approximately 20.8% of offenders may be Black or American Indian”.  The Fiscal Note also projected that “50% of defendants will be indigent”.  We fear these estimates are very conservative given that interference with official acts is used liberally.  Despite our opposition, the bill passed out of the Senate 49-0 on the 22nd. It passed the House 86-10 on March 15.  It is enrolled and ready to be sent to the governor for his approval or veto.

On March 2, we asked readers of this newsletter to contact their respective state representative and encourage your representative to OPPOSE SF 2115. You made a difference. Though we didn’t get our anticipated outcome, several representatives listened and voted according to your desires. Please take time to thank your legislator.

Those representatives (5) voting AGAINST SF 2115, JRC’s position, in the Public Safety Committee meeting of March 3 include:  Reps. Ako Abdul-Samad (D-Des Moines); Ruth Ann Gaines (D-Des Moines); Rick Olson (D-Des Moines); Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D-Ames); and Mary Lynn Wolfe (D-Clinton).

Those representatives (10) who voted AGAISNT the bill on the House Floor include:  Reps. Ako Abdul-Samad (D-Des Moines); Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines); Deborah Berry (D-Waterloo); Ruth Ann Gaines (D-Des Moines); Lisa Heddens (D-Ames); Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines); Charles Isenhart (D-Dubuque); Jo Oldson (D-Des Moines); Rick Olson (D-Des Moines); and Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D-Ames);

Please send these legislators a “thank you” note, expressing your gratitude for their opposition to Senate File 2115.

SF 2059 – This is the Department of Corrections’ bill for 2015.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill, also.  We should be opposed because a “Violators’ Program” is required by law.  SF 2059 passed the Senate 48-0 on Feb. 22.  It passed the House 95-0 on March 17.  The bill is enrolled and ready for the governor’s signature.

HF 2401 – This bill would prohibit anyone from opening a credit card account, or using an account in the name of a minor without the consent of the minor’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian.  JRC “OPPOSES” this bill.  We might understand the penalty of a class “C” felony if the credit limit is above $10,000, but really, what minor is going to be able to acquire credit in the amount of five figures.  What is egregious about this bill is that a class “D” felony is committed if the credit limit is below $10,000.  Lumping $9,990 with $25 with the same penalty is not equity in sentencing.  HF 2401 passed the House 96-1 on March 2; it passed the Senate 49-0 on March 16. The bill is enrolled and ready for the governor’s signature.

The following bills have passed both chambers and have been signed into law by the governor:

House File 2271 – This is a bill that pertains to identity theft.  JRC was “UNDECIDED” on the bill.  We sense there may be unintended consequences with this bill in the future, but since we can’t specifically identify those circumstances, we have to declare as being undecided.  HF 2271 passed the House 96-0 on Feb. 24.  Passed the Senate 48-0 on Feb. 28.  Signed by the governor on March 11

SF 2288 – A bill relating to the confidentiality of juvenile court records in delinquency proceedings.  JRC was declared in “SUPPORT” of this bill.  It passed the Senate 48-0 on Feb. 25. It passed the House 97-1 on March 1.  Governor Branstad signed the bill in a ceremony in the 1st floor rotunda on Wednesday, March 9.

Find out who your legislators are here.

 

Selected links:

A Mailman Handcuffed in Brooklyn, Caught on Video http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/27/nyregion/glen-grays-the-mailman-cuffed-in-brooklyn.html?partner=rss&emc=rss By GINIA BELLAFANTE.  The New York Times, MARCH 25, 2016.

A Few Facts About US State Prisons: http://justicereformconsortium.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/A-Few-Facts-About-US-State-Prison.pdf John NeffFEBRUARY 14, 2016

To the chagrin of ex-offenders, some New York companies are allegedly failing to comply with the state’s Fair Chance Act, which is part of the “Ban the Box” movement. The Influence The Marshall Project. Tuesday, MARCH 22, 2016,

Private DNA tests could end up in police custody on Page A2 of Sunday, March 27, 2016 issue of Star Tribune

March 15 Newsletter

Raccoon Hunting Season Again

Several years ago, a bill was introduced in the Iowa Senate that would allow an adolescent to go raccoon hunting with a grandfather.  It passed the Senate and was sent to the Natural Resources Committee in the House.  The House NR Committee passed it out on to the floor for debate.  When the bill was brought up for debate a phenomenal event occurred.  The subject of the bill, raccoons, became doves.  Lo and behold, legislation allowing for the hunting of mourning doves emerged from the raccoon hunting bill.  The bill went back to the Senate for its approval and hit the governor’s desk within 24 hours, where he signed it into law.

The Iowa House is at it again.  It’s trying to change apples into oranges.  The first bill introduced in the Senate during the 2015 Legislative Session, Senate File 1, passed the Senate last year 31-19 and was sent to the House.  SF 1 is a bill which states:

If the lowest responsive bid received by the state for products or other purchases is from an out-of-state business and totals less than five hundred thousand dollars, and an Iowa-based business submitted a bid which is within five percent or then thousand dollars of the price of the lowest bid, whichever is less, the Iowa-based business which submitted the lowest responsive bid shall be notified and shall be allowed to match the lowest bid before a contract is awarded.

The House didn’t take up the bill last year, but the House State Government Committee brought it up recently and amended it by striking everything the Senate approved and inserting language that a “department or agency is not required to comply with” Iowa Code sections requiring “any department or agency of state government” to purchase goods manufactured by Iowa State Industries (often called “Prison Industries’).

Iowa State Industries teaches offenders within the Iowa Department of Corrections skills compatible with jobs outside the prison walls.  The IPI provides instruction and hands-on skills in areas of furniture-making, textiles and apparel, manufacturing and specialty printing.  It teaches offenders to be on-time, productive, and respectful of the workplace setting.  It’s a valuable program producing quality manufactured goods and future successful citizens upon inmate releases.

Destroying this program has often been a goal of some legislators that believe the private sector should be the sole source of goods and services provided by the IPI.  Contrary to some remarks, Prison Industries does not compete with outside sources.   “Employment of inmates in private industry shall not displace employed workers, apply to skills, crafts, or trades in which there is a local surplus of labor, or impair existing contracts for employment or services.”  Iowa Code Section 904.809(1)(d).  Diluting the program or eliminating it will do nothing positive.

Some facts about Iowa Prison Industries:

  • “Iowa Prison Industries is a self-supporting division of the Department of Corrections. Revenue from the sale of products pays for all cost of operation, including civilian salaries, offender allowances, raw materials, and equipment. No tax dollars are appropriated by the legislature.”
  • IPI helps to “develop within those inmates willing to accept and persevere in such work:
    • Positive attitudes which will enable them to eventually function as law-abiding, self-supporting members of the community;
    • Good work habits that will assist them in eventually securing and holding gainful employment outside the correctional system; and
    • To the extent feasible, marketable skills that can lead directly to gainful employment upon release from a correctional institution.”
  • IPI enables inmates to:
    • Provide or assist in providing for their dependents, thus tending to strengthen the inmates’ family ties while reducing the likelihood that inmates’ families will have to rely upon public assistance for subsistence;
    • Make restitution, as the opportunity to do so becomes available, to the victims of the offenses for which the inmates were incarcerated, so as to assist the inmates in accepting responsibility for the consequences of their acts;
    • Make it feasible to require that such inmates pay some portion of the cost of board and maintenance in a correctional institution, in a manner similar to what would be necessary if they were employed in the community; and
    • Accumulate savings so that such inmates will have funds for necessities upon their eventual return to the community.

A record roll call was taken in the House State Government Committee and SF 1, as amended, passed 12-10.  Those voting “No” included: Reps. Vicki Lensing (D-Iowa City), Deborah Berry (D-Waterloo), Dennis Cohoon (D-Burlington), Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines), Dan Kelley (D-Newton),  Mary Mascher (D-Iowa City), Todd Prichard (D-Charles City),  Sally Stutsman (D-Riverside),  Todd Taylor (D-Cedar Rapids, and Cindy  Winckler (D-Davenport).

Legislators often receive messages to vote for this; oppose this; do or don’t amend a particular bill; etc.  They seldom receive a kind message of appreciation.  Thank them – Please!

Alice’s Restaurant – Live! At the Capitol

“You can get anything you like at Alice’s Restaurant.”

The song – Alice’s Restaurant – and later, the movie by the same name, came to life at the Iowa Capitol last week.  Arlo Guthrie, son of noted folk singer Woody Guthrie, recorded a song back in the late 1960s (over 18 minutes long) based upon an actual event. It dealt with “littering”, or as we like to call it at the Iowa Capitol, “illegal dumping.”

The satirical song is a staple of many radio stations across the country on Thanksgiving Day.  At least, it has been.  Guthrie and a friend cleaned out an old church for some friends and took the garbage to a dump.  Being Thanksgiving Day, the dump was closed.  So Guthrie, familiar with the territory, took the garbage to a common dumping ground and added the church junk to the eyesore.  Within a day, the sheriff had arrested the two and threw them in jail.

The sheriff had 27 colored photos as proof of the incident and provided them at trial.  However, the presiding judge was blind, which rendered the photos useless.  Nonetheless, Guthrie and friend were fined $50 and ordered to clean up the mess.  (The sheriff and judge play themselves in the movie.)

The whole point of the song and movie is that the crime prevented Guthrie from being drafted because he had no moral character.  He couldn’t believe it!  Littering (or illegal dumping) was cause for him to be rejected from the Army; the same Army that was – according to Guthrie – responsible for burning women, children and villages.  And he was declared not moral enough because of his crime.

House File 2385’s original intent was to enhance the penalty for littering from a simple misdemeanor to a serious misdemeanor [simple misdemeanor = Up to 30 days in jail and $625 in fines; serious misdemeanor = Up to 1 year in jail and $1875 in fines].  Also, the original bill allowed the court to order the litterbug to pay for the cost of cleaning up the litter.  But the House amended the bill by eliminating the reference to littering and making it a bill about illegal dumping.  Currently, the act of illegal dumping is punished with a civil fine of not more than $1,000.  The bill removes the punishment of the civil fine and turns it into a criminal act with the penalty being a serious misdemeanor.  On March 8, the bill was returned to the Committee, which effectively choked its chances of being enacted this year.

We’re not sure, but supposedly proof of illegal dumping would have to include: “twenty-seven eight-by-ten color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us.”

It’s just one of those bills that seem to bring back memories of the sixties and seventies.

JRC’s Legislative Agenda for 2016

The following bills remain alive and are eligible for debate at any time from now through the end of the session:

SF 2116 – This is a synthetic drugs bill.  We’re going to see one of these bills every session as long as chemists can determine which molecule to alter/delete/add so that the ban on one specific combination of molecules provides the same unrealistic adventure as its grandfather, without being specifically banned.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill.  SF 2116 passed the Senate on Feb. 22 by a vote of 49-0

SF 2185 – This bill extends the scope of criminal trespass to include trespass that violates a “person’s expectation of privacy”.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill.  Lacking a Fiscal Note, which would provide estimates on the number of convictions expected, we believe that the number of person charged and convicted of this crime to be very minimal. It passed the Senate 50-0 on Feb. 24.

SF 2115 – JRC wrote about this bill last Jan. 31st. At the time, we referred to the bill as

 Senate Study Bill 3007.  We also mentioned this bill in the most recent newsletter, also.  The legislation will add “jailers” to the list of professions that may be the subject of a charge of “interference with official acts”.  We “OPPOSE” this measure.  It disproportionately punishes the mentally ill and intoxicated.  Despite our opposition, the bill passed out of the Senate 49-0 on the 22nd.

SF 2061 – This bill is a response to the Iowa Supreme Court case State v. Young, 863 N.W.2d 249 (2015)(Amended July 17, 2015.)  In Young, the Court held that “a misdemeanor defendant has a right to the assistance of counsel when the defendant faces the possibility of imprisonment.”  Like everyone else, JRC is “UNDECIDED” on the bill.

SF 2059 – This is the Department of Corrections’ bill for 2015.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill, also.  We should be opposed because a “Violators’ Program” is required by law.  SF 2059 passed the Senate 48-0 on Feb. 22.

HF 2401 – This bill would prohibit anyone from opening a credit card account, or using an account in the name of a minor without the consent of the minor’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian.  JRC “OPPOSES” this bill.  We might understand the penalty of a class “C” felony if the credit limit is above $10,000, but really, what minor is going to be able to acquire credit in the amount of five figures.  What is egregious about this bill is that a class “D” felony is committed if the credit limit is below $10,000.  Lumping $9,990 with $25 with the same penalty is not equity in sentencing. 

HF 2333 – This measure would change the process of how consent decrees in juvenile delinquency cases are created.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill.

The following bills have failed to make it out of a committee in both chambers and are considered dead for this year (caution – a bill may be dead, but an issue lives forever):

Senate File 84 – A bill leftover from last year, this is a version of “Ban the Box”.  JRC is declared in “SUPPORT” of the bill. 

SF 2267 – The Racial Profiling bill.  A few amendments were proffered to help acquire votes for the bill, but in the end, there just wasn’t enough support.  JRC is declared in “SUPPORT” of the bill.  According to the Des Moines Register article of March 13, 2016, Second funnel: What survived in the Iowa Legislature, by William Petroski and Brianne Pfannenstiel, Senator Janet Peterson (D-Des Moines) said “she still hopes to advance the data collection provisions of the proposal by including them in a budget bill later this session.”

HF 2309 – A bill for an act relating to controlled substances, including by modifying the penalties for controlled substances containing cocaine base, 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.  Equalizing the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine is a priority of JRC.  This bill makes an attempt to bring the threshold amount of each closer to each other, but fails in equalizing the penalties for possessing similar amounts of these two pharmacologically identical substances.  JRC “OPPOSES” this bill for several different reasons.

HF 2323A bill that would enhance the penalty for the commission of sexual misconduct with offenders and juveniles. 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 and “SUPPORTS” this legislation.

HF 2334 – This bill would allow certain psychologists to prescribe particular medicines under special conditions.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill.

HF 2367 – Establishes a prearrest diversion program.  The overall concept is okay, but JRC has some problems with this bill.  JRC is declared as “UNDECIDED” on this bill.

HF 2379 – A bill that requires the impoundment of a vehicle when the driver has been charged with operating while license is revoked, suspended, denied or canceled.  JRC “OPPOSES” this bill. 

SF 2289A bill that criminalizes the mistreatment of animals that are not livestock or game, and enhances penalties under certain circumstances.  JRC is registered as “UNDECIDED” on the bill because it is estimated that animal abuse crimes “will result in an estimated increase of 26 convictions annually.”  The estimated result of convictions is not significant enough for JRC to justify working against this issue.  The bill passed the Senate 32-16 on February 25.

SF 2183 – A bill extending the statute of limitations from 3 to 10 years in child endangerment cases.  Although JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill, we have grave concerns about extending the statute of limitations beyond 3 years, except in cases involving murder. It passed the Senate 50-0 on Feb. 23.

HF 2064 – Penalty enhancements.  This bill enhances the penalty for child endangerment when the act results in the death of a child.  JRC consistently opposes legislation that enhances penalties without empirical evidence, but this bill has more than just the “we oppose all enhanced penalties” argument. 

HF 2399This bill is an attempt to solve problems of assault in relationships.  The provisions of the bill go far beyond what is consistent with other Iowa law regarding criminal acts.  The bill also combines criminal with civil remedies, a combination that should not get started in statutory law.  JRC is “OPPOSED” to this bill.

HF 2385 – This bill makes illegal dumping a serious misdemeanor.  Currently, the act of illegal dumping is subject to a civil fine of up to $1,000.  Other provisions in this bill (determining which entity receives money from the fines) place this legislation is precarious position.  JRC “OPPOSES” this legislation for a couple of reasons.  See Alice’s Restaurant above

The following bills have passed both chambers and have been signed into law by the governor:

House File 2271 – This is a bill that pertains to identity theft.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on the bill.  We sense there may be unintended consequences with this bill in the future, but since we can’t specifically identify those circumstances, we have to declare as being undecided.  HF 2271 passed the House 96-0 on Feb. 24.  Passed the Senate 48-0 on Feb. 28.  Signed by the governor on March 11

SF 2288 – A bill relating to the confidentiality of juvenile court records in delinquency proceedings.  JRC has declared in “SUPPORT” of this bill.  It passed the Senate 48-0 on Feb. 25.

It passed the House 97-1 on March 1.  Governor Branstad signed the bill in a ceremony in the 1st floor rotunda on Wednesday, March 9.

Find out who your legislators are here.

February 28 Newsletter

February 28, 2016

Everyone’s Talking Sentencing Reform?

It seems as though a lot of talk has been focused on sentencing reform this year.  Iowa’s senior senator in Congress has bragged about a bill that will reform a federal sentencing statute.  Iowa’s governor has boasted about his Working Group to address specific issues related to disparate sentencing of African-Americans.  In his Condition of the Judiciary speech, Chief Justice Cady also called for sensible solutions to Iowa’s prison population.  So, we should expect a reduction in prison population numbers any day now, right?  Don’t hold your breath.

We have reviewed the bills that survived the Iowa Legislature’s first funnel deadline and have observed that not everyone received the public’s message that it wants true sentencing reform.  Some of the legislative bills that enhance penalties this year are somewhat sensible.  Yes, you should not mistreat animals, and the resulting penalties in SF 2289 seem to fit the crime.  On the other hand, House File 2064 classifies child endangerment resulting in death of a child as a forcible felony (defendant must serve 70% of the sentence before being considered for parole), based upon the idea that one legislator didn’t think the punishment fit the crime.  But as it seems in matters of getting tough of crime, there’s more to the story.

There are two instances that come to mind when thinking about the death of child and an adult charged with child endangerment resulting in death; shaken baby syndrome and Christian Science Religion.  In these cases, if the parent is the one charged, the child’s death is an eternity of punishment.  Losing a child is not normal – under any circumstances.

There is a difference between 1st degree robbery, kidnapping, other forcible felonies, and the charge of child endangerment resulting in death.  Perhaps a violation of child endangerment resulting in death is not an oversight.  There are going to be instances in which the person charged does not have the criminal intent similar to someone committing the act of 1)murder in the second degree; 2) attempted murder; 3) sexual abuse; 4) kidnapping in the 2nd degree; 5) robbery in the 1st or 2nd degree; or 6) vehicular homicide when driving drunk.

Praying over a sick child should not result in serving 35 years in prison without an opportunity to be heard.  And a minute of frustration should not be worth 35 years of sitting in regret.  “[C]ases of shaken babies, crying is the most frequent trigger mechanism that causes good people to make a really poor decision and shake them just to try to get them to stop crying.” Observing that shaking is commonly precipitated by frustration over fussiness is not the same as suggesting that fussiness often leads to shaking.” Seymour v. City of Des Moines, 519 F. 3d 790, 798 8th Cir. 2008). These instances should be weighed on a case-by-case basis, and the judgment of a parole board panel should be the proper venue for determining when a regretful parent should re-enter society, not a one-size-fits-all statute that cannot determine between mean and sorrowful.

Enhancing penalties should come with a pretty darn good explanation.  In the past, Iowa legislators have failed to do that.  Today, they’re much better in seeking all the answers before jumping to conclusions that may haunt families forever.

RC’s Legislative Agenda for 2016

 The following bills have already seen a vote in one chamber or the other:

Senate File 2289A bill that criminalizes the mistreatment of animals that are not livestock or game, and enhances penalties under certain circumstances.  JRC is registered as “UNDECIDED” on the bill because it is estimated that animal abuse crimes “will result in an estimated increase of 26 convictions annually.”  The estimated result of convictions is not significant enough for JRC to justify working against this issue.  The bill passed the Senate 32-16 on February 25.

SF 2288 – A bill relating to the confidentiality of juvenile court records in delinquency proceedings.  JRC has declared in “SUPPORT” of this bill.  It passed the Senate 48-0 on Feb. 25.

SF 2185 – This bill extends the scope of criminal trespass to include trespass that violates a “person’s expectation of privacy”.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill.  Lacking a Fiscal Note, which would provide estimates on the number of convictions expected, we believe that the number of person charged and convicted of this crime to be very minimal. It passed the Senate 50-0 on Feb. 24.

SF 2183 – A bill extending the statute of limitations from 3 to 10 years in child endangerment cases.  Although JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill, we have grave concerns about extending the statute of limitations beyond 3 years, except in cases involving murder. It passed the Senate 50-0 on Feb. 23.

 F 2116 – This is a synthetic drugs bill.  We’re going to see one of these bills every session as long as chemists can determine which molecule to alter/delete/add so that the ban on one specific combination of molecules provides the same unrealistic adventure as its grandfather, without being specifically banned.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill.  SF 2116 passed the Senate on Feb. 22 by a vote of 49-0

SF 2115 – JRC wrote about this bill last Jan. 31st. At the time, we referred to the bill as  Senate Study Bill 3007.  We also mentioned this bill in the most recent newsletter, also.  The legislation will add “jailers” to the list of professions that may be the subject of a charge of “interference with official acts”.  We “OPPOSE” this measure.  It has no purpose but to punish the mentally ill and intoxicated.  Despite our opposition, the bill passed out of the Senate 49-0 on the 22nd.

SF 2061 – This bill is a response to the Iowa Supreme Court case State v. Young, 863 N.W.2d 249 (2015)(Amended July 17, 2015.)  In Young, the Court held that “a misdemeanor defendant has a right to the assistance of counsel when the defendant faces the possibility of imprisonment.”  Like everyone else, JRC is “UNDECIDED” on the bill.

SF 2059 – This is the Department of Corrections’ bill for 2015.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill, also.  We should be opposed because a “Violators’ Program” is required by law.  SF 2059 passed the Senate 48-0 on Feb. 22.

House File 2271 – This is a bill that pertains to identity theft.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on the bill.  We sense there may be unintended consequences with this bill in the future, but since we can’t specifically identify those circumstances, we have to declare as being undecided.  HF 2271 passed the House 96-0 on Feb. 24.

The following bills are ready for debate sometime in the next two weeks:

HF 2064 – Penalty enhancements.  This bill enhances the penalty for child endangerment when the act results in the death of a child.  JRC consistently opposes legislation that enhances penalties without empirical evidence, but this bill has more than just the “we oppose all enhanced penalties” argument.  Here is what we said about it two weeks ago:

HF 2064 – A bill sponsored by a Democrat and Republican in the House, this supposedly non-controversial bill is “OPPOSED” by JRC. It would add the criminal offense of felonious child endangerment to the list of forcible felonies. Under the provisions of the bill, “an offender who commits the criminal offense of child endangerment that results in the death of a child or minor [must] serve 70 percent of a 50-year class “B” felony sentence. Under current law, such an offender is sentenced to confinement for 50 years but is eligible for parole upon entering prison.” Perhaps it seems logical to equate the sentence to the criminal act. However, there are some religions that experience the death of child when the parents rely upon means to treat the child outside the medical community. The tenets are deep and serious. To harshly punish these particular parents for what they believe to be the child’s best interest, according to their religion, is an overreach. JRC believes that just because a person is eligible for parole upon entering prison, the practice has never been as simple as the phrase suggests.

HF 2407 – A bill for an act relating to the confidentiality of juvenile court records.  JRC is declared in “SUPPORT” of this bill. 

HF 2401 – This bill would prohibit anyone from opening a credit card account, or using an account in the name of a minor without the consent of the minor’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian.  JRC “OPPOSES” this bill.  We might understand the penalty of a class “C” felony if the credit limit is above $10,000, but really, what minor is going to be able to acquire credit in the amount of five figures.  What is egregious about this bill is that a class “D” felony is committed if the credit limit is below $10,000.  Lumping $9,990 with $25 with the same penalty is not equity in sentencing. 

HF 2399This bill is an attempt to solve problems of assault in relationships.  The provisions of the bill go far beyond what is consistent with other Iowa law regarding criminal acts.  The bill also combines criminal with civil remedies, a combination that should not get started in statutory law.  JRC is “OPPOSED” to this bill.

HF 2385 – This bill makes illegal dumping a serious misdemeanor.  Currently, the act of illegal dumping is subject to a civil fine of up to $1,000.  Other provisions in this bill (determining which entity receives money from the fines) place this legislation is precarious position.  JRC “OPPOSES” this legislation for a couple of reasons. 

HF 2379 – A bill that requires the impoundment of a vehicle when the driver has been charged with operating while license is revoked, suspended, denied or canceled.  JRC “OPPOSES” this bill. 

HF 2367 – Establishes a prearrest diversion program.  The overall concept is okay, but JRC has some problems with this bill.  JRC is declared as “UNDECIDED” on this bill.

HF 2334 – This bill would allow certain psychologists to prescribe particular medicines under special conditions.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill.

HF 2333 – This measure would change the process of how consent decrees in juvenile delinquency cases are created.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill.

HF 2323A bill that would enhance the penalty for the commission of sexual misconduct with offenders and juveniles. 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 and “SUPPORTS” this legislation.

HF 2309 – A bill for an act relating to controlled substances, including by modifying the penalties for controlled substances containing cocaine base, 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.  Equalizing the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine is a priority of JRC.  This bill makes an attempt to bring the threshold amount of each closer to each other, but fails in equalizing the penalties for possessing similar amounts of these two pharmacologically identical substances.  JRC “OPPOSES” this bill for several different reasons.

 

The second legislative funnel arrives on March 11. On that date, bills that have passed out of a committee in one house by the Feb. 19 deadline must pass out of a committee in the chamber across the rotunda in order to be eligible for debate during the remainder of the session.   

PETITION

The following petition is a noble effort at trying to get the attention of legislators to get rid of mandatory minimums. JRC does not endorse nor sponsor the petition, but if you would like to sign it, please do. It is our belief that the legislators to whom this petition is directed are not necessarily the best recipients. To that end, we suggest that if you do sign this petition, take the time to inform YOUR legislators about your disappointment with mandatory minimums.

https://www.change.org/p/mary-wolfe-tell-iowa-legislators-to-revise-the-70-mandatory-minimum-sentencing-laws

Find out who your legislators are here.

Valentine’s Day Newsletter 2016

Vol. 7 #3 February 14, 2016

It’s The Same Thing

The discussion about how crack cocaine and powder cocaine differ has been ongoing for decades.  Most of what you have read is probably not true.  The United States Supreme Court identified the difference as “two forms of the same drug”. Kimbrough v. United States 128 S.Ct. 558, 566 (2007).  That’s the only difference.  Pharmacologically, they are the same thing.  Unlike comparing powder or crack cocaine to LSD, heroin, or methamphetamine, crack and powder possess the same physiological and psychotropic effects.

In a Sentencing Commission report to Congress, the report stated that “Congress apparently believed that crack was significantly more dangerous than powder cocaine in that: (1) crack was highly addictive; (2) crack users and dealers were more likely to be violent than users and dealers of other drugs; (3) crack was more harmful to users than powder, particularly for children who had been exposed by their mothers’ drug use during pregnancy; (4) crack use was especially prevalent among teenagers; and (5) crack’s potency and low cost were making it increasingly popular.”  Citing Kimbrough at 567 (internal citations omitted.)  The observations of Congress that this report exposed were hyperbole.

The Washington Post, Salon.com, and The Drug Policy Alliance consist of only 3 of many organizations pointing out the many myths associated with crack cocaine.  As the diagram below shows, there is virtually no difference between the molecular makeup of the two drugs.  It’s the same thing.

The Iowa Public Safety Advisory Board, way back in 2010, and each subsequent year since, recommended to the Legislature that it reduce the disparity between crack and powder to a ratio of 3:5 rather than the current 1:10.  It’s true that the PSAB vote was 9 to 6 in favor of this plan, but that is not an indication of the consensus that the Board had reached when it agreed that there should be an equalization of the two substances.  The disagreement of how to achieve that equality was represented in the vote. https://humanrights.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/media/PSAB%20Report%202012.pdf  page 4.  The Board reached its decision on the 3:5 ratio based upon fact – the “distribution of the amount of drugs seized” by law enforcement agencies.

The Iowa County Attorneys Association has come up with a new myth, and shared it with members of subcommittee in the Senate on Senate Study Bill 3127, “an act modifying the criminal penalties for a controlled substance that contains cocaine base”.  It has suggested that the dosage unit for crack is much less than a dosage unit for powder, and therefore, the ratio should be 1:5.  This appears to be an approach that was based upon an unscientific poll.  Even if it wasn’t, we don’t base drug crimes on the amount of similar substances consumed.  For instance, Ice is made from methamphetamine, but the possession of a particular amount of one is the same as it is for the other.  Did the ICAA compare snorting cocaine with smoking crack?  How about injecting cocaine?  You can only smoke crack.  You can only smoke methamphetamine ice.  And, you would use much less heroin by injecting than you would smoking it.  Yet, possessing the same amount of heroin for smoking, snorting, injecting, or lacing is static.  Under no other scheme is dosage a cause for administering penalties.

JRC prefers to see a 1:1 ratio between the two drugs.  We insist that the threshold amounts of crack be raised to meet those of the current weights of cocaine.  That time has not arrived.  We will settle with the considerate recommendation of the PSAB.  It’s time to quit playing games and look forward to what this bill (SSB 3127) is meant to accomplish – the decline of Iowa’s unjust disproportionate incarceration of young African-American men in state prisons.

JRC’s Legislative Agenda for 2016

The first legislative funnel is fast approaching.  Many people in Iowa can tell you what is meant by legislative funnel deadlines.  For those new to the state, or new to the love of political maneuvering, there are two funnel dates that appear on the Iowa Legislature’s calendar.  The first of these dates occurs this year on Friday, February 19.  This means that most issue-related bills must pass out of a standing committee by Friday in order to be eligible for debate.  Those that do not pass out of committee are considered non-viable for the rest of the session.  The second funnel deadline occurs on March 11.  On that date, bills that have passed out of a committee in one house by the Feb. 19 deadline must pass out of a committee in the chamber across the rotunda in order to be eligible for debate during the remainder of the session.   

We have listed below some bills that have made it out of committee, and a few that will need to get out of committee this week in order to be viable:

Senate File 84 – A bill leftover from last year, this is a version of “Ban the Box”.  JRC is declared in “SUPPORT” of the bill.  A subcommittee meeting on the bill was held on Tuesday, Jan. 19.  A subsequent subcommittee was held on Thursday, February 11.  Subcommittee members are:  Senators Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames), Chair; Rich Taylor (D-Mt. Pleasant); and Julian Garrett (R-Indianola).  The bill may come up for consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee at any time this week.

House Study Bill 536 – A bill that would enhance the penalty for the commission of sexual misconduct with offenders and juveniles.  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 and “SUPPORTS” this legislation.  The bill has been reviewed by a subcommittee and is expected to be considered by the House Public Safety Committee on Monday, Feb. 15.

SF 2164 – The bill provides for an expungement of records process when a criminal defendant has been convicted of certain crimes (public intoxication, simulated public intoxication, public consumption of alcohol, etc.) after two years have passed and the defendant has had no other convictions except for minor traffic violations.  JRC “SUPPORTS” this measure.  The bill is on the Senate Debate Calendar.  The floor manager is Senator Rich Taylor (D-Mt. Pleasant).

SF 2115 – This bill adds “jailers” to a list of occupational groups (police, EMS, firefighters, etc.) in which a person may be charged with “interference with official acts”.  Previously, we wrote about our opposition to this bill (when it was Senate Study Bill 3007) in an article entitled “Animal Farm Returns to the Capitol”.  JRC Newsletter, Jan. 31, 2016.  JRC “OPPOSES” this concept because it allows a “he said” – “she said” misunderstanding to be turned into a criminal matter, easily.

SF 2059  – This is the Iowa Department of Corrections’ lone bill for the session.  JRC is declared as “UNDECIDED” on the bill.  The bill has two parts.  First, it changes language in the Iowa Code that requires the department to establish a Violators Program.  The bill changes the requirement (“shall”) to “may”.  Second, it gives the department the ability to reduce the time a forcible felony offender must stay in residential housing before being released.  It gives the Parole Board discretion, with recommendation by the District Department of Community-based Corrections, to release offenders earlier than the current one-year requirement.  Although JRC appreciates the common sense approach to the latter, the former has left us dismayed.  We believe the Violators Program was effective.  Unfortunately, the Department’s ability to fully fund programs of worth is fading, due to the Legislative and Executive Branches goal of achieving status quo budgets.

The following bills have passed out of a subcommittee and are awaiting consideration by committees in the House:

HF 2064A bill sponsored by a Democrat and Republican in the House, this supposedly non-controversial bill is “OPPOSED” by JRC.  It would add the criminal offense of felonious child endangerment to the list of forcible felonies.  Under the provisions of the bill, “an offender who commits the criminal offense of child endangerment that results in the death of a child or minor [must] serve 70 percent of a 50-year class “B” felony sentence.  Under current law, such an offender is sentenced to confinement for 50 years but is eligible for parole upon entering prison.”  Perhaps it seems logical to equate the sentence to the criminal act.  However, there are some religions that experience the death of child when the parents rely upon means to treat the child outside the medical community.  The tenets are deep and serious.  To harshly punish these particular parents for what they believe to be the child’s best interest, according to their religion, is an overreach.  JRC believes that just because a person is eligible for parole upon entering prison, the practice has never been as simple as the phrase suggests.

HF 2023 – This bill eliminates the crime of public intoxication and simulated public intoxication.  Rep. Mary Wolfe (D-Clinton), the bill’s sponsor, said that this crime is “the only crime in which we (Iowans) punish a state of being instead of an act.”  Our neighboring states of Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Kansas, and Wisconsin do not have public intoxication statutes.  As mentioned in a subcommittee meeting of Feb. 11th, the offense of public intoxication is often a “tack-on” offense.  In other words, it is often one of many charges brought against a person surrounding one incident.  JRC “SUPPORTS” this effort to remove an archaic criminal matter.  It’s like creating the crime of being fat!

 

Selected links:

 

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) criticizes Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in WSJ Letter-to-the-editor, and Grassley responds:  http://www.wsj.com/articles/feds-criminalize-things-that-arent-crimes-1454614019 The Wall Street Journal, FEB. 4, 2016

 

From The Marshall Project: “One of the more important subplots in the congressional drama over criminal justice reform centers on the Latin phrase “mens rea,” literally “a guilty mind.” Republicans want any reform bill to include language requiring the government to prove actual intent in order to win a criminal conviction. The Justice Department and some liberal reformers see this as a conservative trick to hobble enforcement of corporate crimes — it being harder to pin down the “intent” of a faceless corporation. But in an op-ed in The New York Times, Gideon Yaffe, a Yale law professor, makes the liberal case for mens rea reform — explaining how it can be harnessed to the advantage of the poor and minorities.Bill Keller

 

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

The next program meeting of Iowa CURE will be February 21 (Sunday) at 2 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church, corner of 8th and College, 1548 8th St. in Des Moines.  Our speaker will be Dr. Jerome Greenfield, the newly appointed mental health director for the Iowa Department of Corrections.  He will speak about the work he is doing in his new position.  Dr. Greenfield practiced psychiatry in the Des Moines area for many years and is highly respected for his work.

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Iowa State Representative Helen Miller

Invites you to join her at the

Iowa Central Community College, BioScience Building

Fort Dodge, Iowa

 

Iowa Criminal Justice Summit 2016

 

Program begins at 9:00 am

Iowa Criminal Justice Summit Special Guest and Keynote Speaker Lamont Carey has an amazing story to tell about his life and experiences both then and now. Hearing his story is a testament to the Youth, Society and Communities of Today – giving hope, awareness and realness to the Criminal Justice System. His story is the core of the Summit, you don’t want to miss it.

Saturday, February 20th 9:00 a.m.

 

ICCC BioScience Health Auditorium.

 

Lamont is first on program – he will begin to speak at 9:15 a.m. Actor, Spokenword Artist, Motivational Speaker, Business Coach, Entrepreneur and Author…Mr. Lamont Carey.

January 31, 2016 JRC Newsletter

Vol. 7 #2 January 31, 2016

IOWA CAUCUS EVE

Animal Farm Returns to the Capitol

Some people just don’t get it.  Some do.

A subcommittee meeting on House File 2020, a bill “enhancing the penalty for certain assaults against a sports official”, adjourned without the members of the subcommittee approving the bill for further consideration.  During the meeting, eight high school students from Estherville High School observed the process of legislators and lobbyists vetting the bill.

After the bill failed to pass out of the subcommittee, JRC Legislative Advocate Marty Ryan asked if any of the students had read George Orwell’s Animal Farm.  Every one of them had read it and enjoyed it.  Ryan had compared these types of bills to a quote from the book:  “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

The Estherville students readily grasp this concept, but it seems like some organizations and the members that belong to them cannot apprehend this picture.

A week earlier, in the chamber across the rotunda, another subcommittee meeting was held on a bill, Senate Study Bill 3007, an act “relating to the criminal offense of interference with official acts at county jails, municipal holding facilities, and judicial district departments of correctional services, and providing penalties.”

SSB 3007 does not address the matter of assault, but you wouldn’t have known it by listening to the testimony in the room.  Examples were being brought up in which jailers were assaulted, and threatened to be assaulted.  These examples are NOT what should constitute the crime of interference with official acts.  They are assaults and should be treated like assaults.  And jailers are already included in the list of occupations in which a person assaulting the official will receive an enhanced penalty.  [Iowa Code Section 708.3A]

These “Animal Farm” 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 a sports 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.  There exists no empirical evidence that enhanced penalties will prevent one person from assaulting another.  Nor is there any sort of evidence that the penalty involved in an assault will protect anyone.

Interference with official acts is a “he said, she said” incident.  Many jailers are not law enforcement officers and have no authority to issue a citation to an inmate in a jail.  An investigating officer is going to weigh the testimony of a jailer so far above that of a defendant that the scales of justice will fall off the shelf.  Trust us on this one.

In the past 20 years, the list of occupations that are referenced in Section 708.3A[1] has grown exponentially.  The House subcommittee panel did the right thing.

HF 2020 and SSB 3007 epitomize the vanishing promise of equality related to us in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”.

Equality is a relationship between man and man. It’s one of mankind’s ultimate ideals. 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 – that this law will protect them.

After sports officials, who’s next?  Coaches?  Cheerleaders?  Mascots?  Representatives in the House don’t want to go there.  Extending the law of interference with official acts to jailers is a push off the slippery slope.  Senators need to be cautious.  Jailers have to deal with drunks, the mentally ill and obnoxious citizens who think they know someone special who will come to their aid.

We admire the tolerance and patience of jailers.  Hopefully, they will continue their professionalism and receive the respect all of us have to offer, without want of more legislation that will surely keep the rough inmates from spending more time under their authority.

[1] 708.3A  Assaults on persons engaged in certain occupations.

  1. A person who commits an assault, as defined in section 708.1, against a peace officer, jailer, correctional staff, member or employee of the board of parole, health care provider, employee of the department of human services, employee of the department of revenue, or fire fighter, whether paid or volunteer, with the knowledge that the person against whom the assault is committed is a peace officer, jailer, correctional staff, member or employee of the board of parole, health care provider, employee of the department of human services, employee of the department of revenue, or fire fighter and with the intent to inflict a serious injury upon the peace officer, jailer, correctional staff, member or employee of the board of parole, health care provider, employee of the department of human services, employee of the department of revenue, or fire fighter, is guilty of a class “D” felony.

A Different Kind Of Drug War

There has been an ongoing turf war going on at the Iowa Capitol between psychologists wanting to be educated and trained in order to prescribe psychotropic medication and the various entities within the medical community who fear this change.  As with any war, there is collateral damage, and in this case it is those dealing with limited and affordable services for mental illness.  Legislators demonstrated frustration that the stakeholders, who had been instructed to meet during the interim to seek a solution, failed to do so.

Justice Reform Consortium is monitoring this issue, although we are very supportive of any effort to meet the needs of the mentally ill in the community instead of in a correctional setting.  After all, carrying a criminal record isn’t conducive to mental health. Nonetheless, during the subcommittee meeting, a doctor who works within the correctional setting was lobbying passionately against giving prescriptive authority to psychologists, touting the positives of treating the mentally ill in prisons.

Those registered against this legislation (House Study Bill 503) include:  Iowa Psychiatric Society; Iowa Medical Society; Iowa Osteopathic Medical Association; Iowa Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics; Iowa Academy of Family Physicians; Polk County Medical Society.

Those that support this legislation: Iowa Psychological Association; Iowa Primary Care Association; Iowa Behavioral Health Association; Epilepsy Foundation; Iowa Annual Conference of United Methodist Church; Easter Seals Iowa; Polk County – Board of Supervisors; Iowa State Association of Counties.  The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) supports this initiative, but is not registered on the bill.  There are a host of others registered as undecided.

History of the prescribing psychologists’ movement

“The movement to grant psychologists the right to prescribe psychotropic medication took root in the late 1960s when the APA identified psychopharmacology as a discipline of psychology.

  • 1991-1997: The Department of Defense begins a six-year trial program to train 10 psychologists to prescribe medication at assigned military bases. The program was successful, demonstrating that psychologists can be taught to prescribe safely. Some of the psychologists are still prescribing and appropriately trained psychologists may now be credentialed to prescribe in the Defense Department, the U.S. Public Health Service and the Indian Health Service.
  • 2002: New Mexico becomes the first state to enact a law allowing appropriately trained psychologists to prescribe psychotropic medications.
  • 2004: Louisiana passes legislation providing prescribing rights to psychologists.
  • 2014: Illinois enacts legislation granting prescriptive authority to licensed psychologists with additional specialized training in psychopharmacology.
  • The need is great and the evidence is clear: Allowing prescribing rights for psychologists is an essential step to providing thousands of patients with access to comprehensive mental health care.”

JRC’s Legislative Agenda for 2016

The Senate is churning bills out faster than an automobile assembly line.  The House has been more selective and deliberate.  The following consists of two bills that are on the move:

Senate File 84 – A bill leftover from last year, this is a version of “Ban the Box”.  JRC is declared in “SUPPORT” of the bill.  A subcommittee meeting on the bill was held on Tuesday, Jan. 19.  Subcommittee members are:  Senators Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames), Chair; Rich Taylor (D-Mt. Pleasant); and Julian Garrett (R-Indianola).  The bill may come up for consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee at any time.

Senate Study Bill 3057 AND House Study Bill 536 – These two companion bills enhance the penalty for the commission of sexual misconduct with offenders and juveniles.  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.  Both bills have been reviewed by subcommittees and are expected to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Public Safety Committee.

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.

[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.

Selected links:

Obama Bans Solitary Confinement of Juveniles in Federal Prisons  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/26/us/politics/obama-bans-solitary-confinement-of-juveniles-in-federal-prisons.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0  Michael D. Shear.  The New York Times, JAN. 25, 2016

Justices Expand Parole Rights for Juveniles Sentenced to Life for Murder  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/26/us/politics/justices-expand-parole-rights-for-juveniles-sentenced-to-life-for-murder.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0 ADAM LIPTAK.  The New York Times, JAN. 25, 2016.

Massachusetts Chief’s Tack in Drug War: Steer Addicts to Rehab, Not Jail  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/25/us/massachusetts-chiefs-tack-in-drug-war-steer-addicts-to-rehab-not-jail.html?partner=rss&emc=rss KATHARINE Q. SEELYE  The New York Times, JAN. 24, 2016

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

The next program meeting of Iowa CURE will be February 21 (Sunday) at 2 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church, corner of 8th and College, 1548 8th St. in Des Moines.  Our speaker will be Dr. Jerome Greenfield, the newly appointed mental health director for the Iowa Department of Corrections.  He will speak about the work he is doing in his new position.  Dr. Greenfield practiced psychiatry in the Des Moines area for many years and is highly respected for his work.

************************************************

Fort Dodge will host meeting on Iowa’s Criminal Justice System

The Bioscience and Health Sciences Building on the Iowa Central Community College Campus is the location of what Rep. Helen Miller (D-Fort Dodge) calls a “mini criminal justice reform gathering”.

The “mini-conference” will begin at 9 am on Saturday, February 20.  Please mark your calendar.

Issues to be discussed on the 20th will include (but not necessarily be limited to):  the rights of Iowans who have committed felonies (or perhaps the lack of those rights); racial disparities in sentencing schemes; and the process of regaining citizenship.

For more information contact:  Rep. Helen Miller (D-Fort Dodge) 515/570-3535 or helenmiller49@yahoo.com   www.facebook.com/helen .miller.49

We will have updated information in the next JRC Newsletter.

******************************************************************

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.

Voices to be Heard has formed also in Cedar Rapids.  We hope to have more information on the Cedar Rapids meetings in subsequent newsletters.  Meanwhile, contact:  Voices to be Heard, Voices.Heard@yahoo.com. Sue Hutchins, 252 S. 22nd St., Marion, IA 52302.

The next Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners meeting is at noon on Tues., February 16th 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

UPCOMING PROGRAM

We welcome Katrina Carter, Assistant Deputy Director-Offender Services, Iowa Department of Corrections.  Katrina will speak with us about the new treatment program that will replace STAR (Sisters Together Achieving Recovery).

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 Newsletter December 16, 2015

Vol. 6 #13 December 16, 2015

On The Right Track

In Polk County, Iowa there is a group of officials that meet regularly throughout the year on issues dear to Justice Reform Consortium.  The Polk County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council was established over seven years ago “to review issues that will enhance cooperation and collaboration among all areas of the criminal justice system.”  The following is the makeup of the Council:

  • Polk County Board of Supervisors Chair
  • One member of the Polk County Board of Supervisors
  • Polk County Attorney
  • Chief Judge of the Fifth Judicial District
  • Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections (this position is represented by the 5th Judicial Department of Correctional Services – Community-based Corrections)
  • Public Defender
  • Polk County Sheriff
  • Suburban Police Chief Representative
  • Des Moines Police Officer
  • Chief Juvenile Court Officer
  • Mental Health Services Director

At the October 8 meeting, Polk County Supervisor Tom Hockensmith stated, “while sometimes the information discussed at the meetings may seem monotonous, and the reports don’t always change that much, the data is important to the Committee.  Prior to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council being formed, the data wasn’t gathered and discussed among the different entities of the criminal justice system.  With the data being shared, the Council is able to analyze certain trends, and discuss possible causes and solutions.”

From its webpage:  “The mission of the Polk County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) is to identify possible improvements in the criminal justice system; develop system-wide solutions; propose actions, execute strategies; and generally improve the criminal justice system.”

One huge result of the CJCC is the development of a 24/7 crisis center operated by Eyerly-Ball and funded by Polk County.   The Crisis Observation Center, located at 1420 Mulberry Street in Downtown Des Moines, has allowed law enforcement to bring people to the center that may have otherwise ended up in jail or the hospital emergency room, thereby saving thousands of taxpayer dollars.  But more importantly, it has provided a needed service to individuals suffering from mental health emergencies.  It should be noted that a person seeking emergency mental health care does not have to be brought to the center by law enforcement officials.  The center is open to any Polk County resident experiencing a mental health crisis.  The center “offers on-site assessment and works to stabilize the crisis through therapeutic interventions, crisis and safety planning, and referrals to appropriate agencies.”

Pretrial Release

Currently, the CJCC is researching the possibility of changing policy related to pre-trial release.  All throughout Iowa, during the initial appearance, the court sets bail or bond conditions based upon a Uniform Bond Schedule set up by the Iowa Supreme Court.  The process is almost automatic.  Because of it, there are people who spend time in jail only because they have no means of paying bail.

The inability to pay a bond agent (formerly called bail bondsmen) 10% to get released is not uncommon.  Basing pretrial release on stability and safety factors rather than on the ability to pay is a sensible solution to overcrowding, today’s version of debtors’ prisons, and will save money for taxpayers and defendants facing charges with limited resources.

We applaud Polk County for researching and considering this policy change.  It’s been proven to work in other states, especially Kentucky, which was the first state to initiate such a program.  The state of Kentucky has been using a successful pretrial release program since 1976.  A “study by the JFA Institute in Washington found that Kentucky has a high pretrial release rate of 74 percent, with low rates of rearrest and failure to appear in court among individuals who were granted pretrial release. The state’s rates are among the best reported by any criminal justice program in the nation, according to the non-profit Pretrial Justice Institute.”

JRC’s Legislative Agenda for 2016

Enhanced Penalties & New Crimes:  Prevent the passage of bills that enhance current criminal penalties and create new crimes without some sort of empirical evidence to demonstrate that the enhancement or creation of the law is the only alternative to addressing a criminal matter, and that all alternatives have been exhausted.

Video recording of custodial interviews:  In a 2006 opinion, State v. Hajtic, Iowa Supreme Court warned:  “We believe electronic recording, particularly videotaping, of custodial interrogations should be encouraged, and we take this opportunity to do so.”  Ten years later, there is no excuse for law enforcement officers to not record custodial interviews.

Ban the Box:  We support legislation that will eliminate the box on employment applications asking if the job applicant has ever: 1) been convicted of a crime; 2) been arrested; or 3) any other reference to the criminal justice system.  These questions should be asked only if there is a nexus between the job and the criminal act, and only after a bone fide offer of employment has been made contingent upon a background check.

Voting Rights for Ex-felons:  It’s time to bring Iowa into the 21st century and allow those convicted of “infamous crimes” to become a part of the community.  No one should be denied the fundamental right to vote.  See Selected Link Below:  Kentucky Governor Restores Voting Rights to Thousands of Felons

Sexual misconduct by a correctional officer or others:  The punishment for sexual misconduct committed by employees and agents of the department of corrections and judicial district departments of correctional services should be consistent with similar crimes.  Currently, the penalty for a conviction of this offense is an aggravated misdemeanor, while sexual abuse in the 3rd degree, which involves similar circumstances, is a class “C” felony.

Mandatory minimums: The Iowa Public Safety Advisory Board (PSAB) of the Criminal & Juvenile Justice Planning Commission (CJJP) has looked at proposing legislation that would eliminate mandatory minimums on certain drug offenses only.   We say: “It’s a start, but let’s go further!”

Funding for mental health & substance abuse programs: This is not a primary issue for JRC because the issue is more complicated than it appears.  JRC will support an increase in funding if the programs demonstrate long term success.

Supreme Court’s Translator/Interpreters Bill:  This is a holdover from three previous sessions.  It may not move, but we will be ready to help the courts if interest rises in the House.

Drug penalties:  The disparity between crack and powder cocaine; the continual addition of new substances to the list of schedules; and the enhancement of penalties or decrease in thresholds of current law are all parts of a broken system (The War on Drugs) that must come to a sensible conclusion.  JRC should monitor any movement to tinker with Chapter 124.

Selected links:

An Inmate Dies, and No One Is Punished http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/14/nyregion/clinton-correctional-facility-inmate-brutality.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0 MICHAEL WINERIP and MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ. The New York Times. DECEMBER 13, 2015.

Kentucky Governor Restores Voting Rights to Thousands of Felons http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/25/us/kentucky-governor-restores-voting-rights-to-thousands-of-felons.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0 ERIK ECKHOLM The New York Times. NOVEMBER 24, 2015.

Heroin, Survivor of War on Drugs, Returns With New Face http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/23/us/heroin-survivor-of-war-on-drugs-returns-with-new-face.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0 Retro Report CLYDE HABERMAN The New York Times. NOVEMBER 22, 2015.

Please consider a Year-end 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., January 19th 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

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.

FRIENDS OF IOWA WOMEN PRISONERS

10/19/2015

Dear Friends,

I am writing to ask your support of the Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners’ Scholarship Program.  Since 2001, we have awarded 218 scholarships, making it possible for women to take college credit courses while still incarcerated.  We believe education is one of the keys to helping women succeed when they return to our communities, as 95% of them do.   Experiencing success in a college-level course while incarcerated can greatly enhance an offender’s belief in her ability to succeed in the classroom and increase the likelihood of her pursuing an education upon release, ultimately contributing to successful re-entry back into society.

Our scholarship recipients are offered college credit classes taught by instructors from the Des Moines Area Community College on-site at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women.  All of our first time college students take a course in Study Strategies.  In 2015, they were also offered classes in Western Civilization, African American Literature, and World Religions.  The women reported they loved the learning experience, found the classes interesting, and were proud of themselves for successfully completing (and receiving high marks in) courses that seemed very intimidating at the onset.

This fall we will be accepting applications from women at the ICIW who would like to receive a FIWP scholarship enabling them to take one of the classes offered in early 2016.  We ask that you consider a financial contribution in support of this cause.  Rather than paying a per student fee, an arrangement has been made to pay DMACC a flat fee for each 3-credit hour class, plus we buy books for each of our scholarship recipients.  The average cost is expected to be about $300 per student.

Tax deductible contributions can be made online through PayPal at our website www.FriendsOfIowaWomenPrisoners.org under the How to Help tab.  Contributions can also be made by sending a check payable to FIWP Scholarship Fund to:

Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners

P.O. Box 71272

Clive, IA  50325

With gratitude for your support.

Rosemary Jungmann, Treasurer

Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners

 

THE WOMEN OF THE INMATE ART PROJECT 

IOWA  CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION FOR WOMEN

PRESENTS

 

REFLECTIONS

paintings by the women of the Inmate Art Program

FRAME WORKS

 

5800 MERLE HAY ROAD *  JOHNSTON, IOWA

December 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015

Hours

Monday through Friday 10 am to 5:30 pm

Saturday 10 am to 4 p.m.

Please stop by and support the work of these artists!

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.

 

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.

 

July 20, 2016 JRC Newsletter

Vol. 6 #11 July 20, 2015

Hail, Or Hell. The Gang’s All Here

The New York Times Magazine featured an article around the life of a former gang member and addict, Dr. Jesse De La Cruz, who currently serves as an expert witness in some California jury trials. His testimony has convinced juries on some occasions that a person is not a gang member. That’s not to say that the defendant was not convicted of a crime; it’s just that he wasn’t convicted of being a gang member.

How Do You Define a Gang Member? http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/magazine/how-do-you-define-a-gang-member.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0 The New York Times Magazine.  DANIEL ALARCÓN. May 27, 2015. The article is an eye-opener for those who think they can spot a gang member a mile away.

All fifty states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of legislation in which a person can be charged with being a gang member or some related crime – such as state level RICO[1] laws.[2] Some larger cities have created ordinances as well, like Chicago. In Iowa, ““Criminal street gang” means any ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal, having as one of its primary activities the commission of one or more criminal acts, which has an identifiable name or identifying sign or symbol, and whose members individually or collectively engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity.” It’s a class “D” felony for anyone to “actively [participate in] or [be] a member of a criminal street gang” or to be associated “with any criminal street gang.”

In State v. Walker, 506 NW 2d 430 (Iowa 1993), Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled that the Iowa statute, on its face, is constitutional. The statute, Iowa Code Chapter 723A, created in 1990 within Senate File 2413, a bill with a title longer than the content of many bills introduced in the Iowa General Assembly.

In Friday’s [July 10] Des Moines Register, a paragraph quotes Sergeant Jason Halifax of the Des Moines Police Department as he addresses the issue of downward trending homicides in Iowa’s largest city.

He said:

The overall drop in homicides is likely due to Iowa criminalizing gang participation in 1990 and the Des Moines force obtaining federal money to start a gang unit, he said.

Since then, it appears gang violence has cooled as members are less likely to flaunt their affiliation and risk being charged under that law, Halifax said.

Sgt. Halifax is speaking on a hunch. But he may be more accurate than you think. According to the Iowa Justice Data Warehouse [information provided by Steve Michael, Division Administrator of the Department of Human Rights – Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning], convictions of criminal gang participation grew from one in 1992, two years after enactment of the statute, to 22 in 1994, two years later. Convictions have dropped off over the past twenty years to average a little less than 8 per year.

A startling statistic is the number of persons convicted of “Gang Recruitment”. Since the act of recruitment was created in 1995, there have been 10 convictions. But the first conviction didn’t occur until 2006 – 10 years after the legislation was deemed necessary. In that year, there were a total of 3 convictions. The only other years with convictions of recruiting gang members were 2011 (4 convictions) and 2013 (3 convictions). All three years with a recruitment conviction also showed a decrease in convictions for gang membership in the previous year.

We searched for an appeal court challenge to Iowa Code section 723A.3 – Gang Recruitment[3], and could find nothing. The language of the law invites questions about vagueness, overbreadth, and Freedom of Speech and Association. However, case law in Florida, Texas and California has determined that similar statutes can hold up to constitutional challenges. In each case, the usual federal case law that addresses strict scrutiny of these constitutional matters was obviously missing. It was substituted with lesser known case law.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to sit in on a jury trial where a defendant was facing a charge of criminal gang participation, or gang recruitment? It would sure beat the dullness of a trial in which a corporate mogul was facing a charge for polluting our waterways or air.

Searching for Information?

The Iowa Legislative Services Agency – Fiscal Division – is a great source for information about the Iowa correctional system, the criminal justice system, and other related areas of importance to Justice Reform Consortium. The following is a list of available reports that have been produced by the division in the past month

Offender Management in the Iowa Prison System

Fiscal Update Newsletter

Department of Corrections (DOC) FY 2015 Reallocations

Offender Re-entry Task Force Meeting

Audit Report – Center for Behavioral Health

Attorney General’s Office Transfer

FY 2015 Corrections System Population and Staffing

State Auditor Report on Community-Based Corrections

Office of the State Public Defender FY 2015 Reallocations

Board of Corrections Meeting – July, 2015

State Audit Addendum Report – Sixth Judicial District Department

Selected links:

Push to End Prison Rapes Loses Earlier Momentum http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/13/us/push-to-end-prison-rapes-loses-earlier-momentum.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0 DEBORAH SONTAG The New York Times. MAY 12, 2015.

Against his better judgment http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2015/06/06/against-his-better-judgment/?tid=sm_tw Eli Saslow The Washington Post. JUNE 6, 2015.

When Bail Is Out of Defendant’s Reach, Other Costs Mount http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/11/us/when-bail-is-out-of-defendants-reach-other-costs-mount.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0 SHAILA DEWAN The New York Times. JUNE 10, 2015.

New York City to Relax Bail Requirements for Low-Level Offenders http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/09/nyregion/new-york-city-introduces-bail-reform-plan-for-low-level-offenders.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0 By RICK ROJAS The New York Times. JULY 8, 2015

You Just Got Out Of Prison. Now What? http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/19/magazine/you-just-got-out-of-prison-now-what.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0 JON MOOALLEM. The New York Times Magazine. .JULY 16, 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_______________

Email address:  ___________________________________________

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

Save the Date

Iowa Justice Summit 2015, August 28-29.

Summit Date and Location have been finalized.  The 2015 Iowa Summit on Justice and Disparities will be held August 28th and 29th at 1055 SW Prairie Trail Parkway, Ankeny IA, 50023 at the FFA Enrichment Center.

The summit will be a two day event this year, and will feature local and national leaders who are IMPLEMENTING change in the criminal justice system. Early bird registration is available now. View the flyer here.

If you missed the first two, be sure to mark your calendar for number three.

Stay tuned for further information.

**********************************

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.

*******************************************

Right Next Door Conference: Beyond the Walls of Church and Neighbor

Please join us October 16th-17th 2015 at First UMC in Ankeny, IA for the Right Next Door conference!

Women at the Well, a United Methodist congregation inside the walls of the women’s prison in Mitchellville, Iowa, is partnering with Prison Congregations of America and the Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church to host a weekend of presentations and workshops designed to inspire, equip, and empower churches to connect with folks we might have missed.

The Right Next Door conference will include presentations by noted speakers, including our keynote speaker, Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking.

The conference will also include various workshops addressing prison ministry, advocacy, mental illness, domestic violence, addiction, how to reduce barriers in your home church, and more. For more information, a schedule of events, and to register, visit http://RightNextDoor2015.org.

Right Next Door conference (early bird registration through 7/15):    http://rightnextdoor2015.org

Upcoming workshop at Valley UMC:    http://www.leeschott.com/?page_id=58

 

The next Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners meeting is at noon on Tues., July 21st 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

UPCOMING MEETINGS & PRESENTERS

In July it will be our pleasure to welcome Donald Wadleigh, Prison Club Committee Chair for District 19 of Toastmasters International.  He has been involved in Toastmasters since his College days, which is longer ago than what he wants to remember.  Most recently he has been active in District 19 which includes Iowa plus small parts of Nebraska and Illinois.

Don is retired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  He retired as Chief of Project Operations for the Chicago District of the Corps.  Since that time he was involved in Disaster Recovery efforts for FEMA in Hurricane Katrina, the patriots Day storm in Maine and the 2008 Iowa floods.

Don became involved with Toastmaster Clubs in Prisons when he was Area Governor for the Davenport and Muscatine, Iowa vicinities and one of the clubs in his Area was tagged as “Suspended”.  Upon investigation he found that it had not met for two years and had no source of funding to pay members dues.  Working with other Toastmasters and the Prison Staff, the Hilltop was restarted and has gone on to become one of the strongest Prison Toastmasters Club and indeed one of the strongest in District 19.

He is currently working with the ICIW staff and local Toastmaster Clubs in the east Des Moines and Newton areas to form a Toastmaster Club there in Mitchellville.  Don’s program would include answering these questions:

  •  What goes on in a typical Toastmaster meeting
  • What goes on in a typical Prison Toastmaster meeting
  • What options are available for organizing a club
  • How Toastmasters can fit into and augment a re-entry program
  • Some success stories.

We look forward to hearing Donald’s presentation.

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; 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; Social Action Committee, Des Moines Presbytery; 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.

 

[1] racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations (RICO).

[2] 18 U.S. Code § 521 was part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. It defines criminal street gang and provides penalties.

[3] 1. A person who solicits, recruits, entices, or intimidates a minor to join a criminal street gang commits a class “C” felony.

  1. A person who conspires to solicit, recruit, entice, or intimidate a minor to join a criminal street gang commits a class “D” felony.

May 19, 2015 Newsletter

Vol. 6 #10 May 19, 2015

A Proposal for Improvement

There is a growing movement for sentencing reform, specifically the need for eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. Three bishops, representing a religious coalition, wrote an op-ed in the Des Moines Register directed at Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the chair of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. The bishops wrote: “We recognize no simple solutions exists when it comes to protecting liberty and safety, and crime demands accountability. However, a ‘lock ‘em up and throw away the key’ philosophy actually undermines both of these values.”

Senator Grassley responded: “One of the best ways to reduce the number of victims is to take down the kingpins who profit from this dangerous and corrosive industry.”   This comment generated ire from concerned citizens, accusing Grassley of being out of touch with the poor, everyday drug user who’s being unjustly punished under the current sentencing system.

But Grassley also raised hope, demonstrating awareness for some of the problems with the current system when he stated:

I’m willing to look at proposals to improve our nation’s criminal justice policies, including reforms that help ensure that indigents are adequately defended. The Sixth amendment calls for any indigent defendant who is charged with misdemeanors and faces a possible jail sentence to have legal representation. Some states and localities regularly fail to comply with this requirement. As a result, potentially innocent individuals plead guilty to crimes. They also then accrue a criminal record that causes them adverse consequences including difficulty finding a job and a greater criminal history that would be considered in any future sentencing determination. (Our emphasis.)

Although these are important issues, especially acknowledging the possibility that innocent people are pleading guilty to crimes they didn’t commit, what is missing from the conversation is making policy changes to aid recovery from addiction. Currently, key supply side tactics—policies for taking down drug dealers are undermining recovery from addiction.

For example, Grassley genuinely believes that: “Mandatory minimum sentences are used to target serious drug traffickers and dismantle organized drug operations by encouraging offenders to give up their bosses to avoid longer prison terms. The assistance they provide is instrumental in helping law enforcement to take down leaders of drug ringers.”

Unfortunately, this long established approach seriously damages an addict’s ability to recover from addiction and should be changed if the true goal is to get people off of illegal drugs. Long term recovery is based in honesty, honor and integrity.   When an addict harms other people, especially for personal gain, the road to recovery is at best bumpy and more realistically unobtainable.

Prosecutors focus on convictions and may very well be able to live with “the ends-justifies-the-means” value system, but an addict does not have that luxury. In order to successfully enter and remain in recovery, an addict needs to hold himself accountable for his actions, not harm someone else to gain a lighter sentence.

Taking down a drug kingpin may momentarily feel powerful, but in the long run it is simply an exercise in futility. There is always a new drug dealer eagerly waiting to take over the territory. The illegal drug trade is highly profitable, so the best approach is to take away the profit margin—minimize the demand for illegal drugs.

Grassley pointed out the obstacles for locating a job when carrying a criminal record. A more serious consequence is eliminating access to the very situations needed for recovery, simply because an addict has fallen victim to the crime of addiction.

Like the bishops, I too will “pray for the thousands of Iowans still behind bars, their families and the many thousands more who will be subject to extreme sentencing policies in years to come if lawmakers choose not to act.” But I will also pray for changing policies so that these poor souls will have a chance for long term recovery.

This article was written by Stephanie Fawkes-Lee, who made improving prevention programs for the drug and alcohol problem the focus of her graduate and undergraduate degrees and now lobbies for the Justice Reform Consortium and its mission to lobby against enhanced penalties, including eliminating mandatory minimums. The view or opinion presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Justice Reform Consortium.

And More

It was strange that Senator Grassley would mention in his Des Moines Register essay earlier this month in response to a coalition of bishops that the “Sixth amendment calls for any indigent defendant who is charged with misdemeanors and faces a possible jail sentence to have legal representation.” An April 3 Iowa Supreme Court decision held that “under article I, section 10 of the Iowa Constitution, an accused in a misdemeanor criminal prosecution who faces the possibility of imprisonment under the applicable criminal statute has a right to counsel.”

Another Des Moines Register editorial on Monday, May 18, gave Senator Grassley credit “for focusing national attention on an issue that affects the vast majority of people caught up in the criminal-justice system,” court-appointed legal counsel. We agree that defendants who face time behind bars should be provided with the Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel. However, one thing most people don’t realize is that this service is not free.

If a defendant is found guilty of committing a simple misdemeanor, and has been provided with a court-appointed attorney, the defendant is subject to restitution. Restitution will include: “Fines, penalties, and surcharges, crime victim compensation program reimbursement, public agency restitution, court costs including correctional fees claimed by a sheriff or municipality, and court-appointed attorney fees, including the expenses for public defenders.” (Citations omitted.)(Emphasis ours.)

The Register brings about the fact that “the promise of legal representation is too often not fulfilled because of a lack of state and local resources to pay for experienced lawyers.” Why should a defendant ask for court-appointed counsel if the defendant may see the attorney only once in their life – for about 15 minutes prior to standing before the judge? The client never gets to choose the amount of time the attorney spends with them when the lawyer is court-appointed.   It’s an additional amount of money to pay for justice that most defendants don’t have. If not paid, misdemeanants will likely get caught up in the system as a “frequent flier”, a derogatory name given to people who seem to be trapped in a revolving door at the courthouse.

In another May essay, R. Ben Stone writes about the people mentioned above. Once you’re in the criminal justice system there are very few exits. The first thing they take from you is your bootstraps.

It’s more than Sixth Amendment rights to court-appointed counsel, but it’s a start. Treating addiction as a crime, making defendants pay for court-appointed attorneys (even when charges have been dismissed or the person is found not guilty), charging cell rates that cost more than the nearest Holiday Inn Express, and lackadaisical accounting of restitution are all dysfunctional elements of the system we call criminal “justice”. It’s here in Iowa, but it’s spread throughout the nation. The entire criminal justice structure is out of whack. That’s why we’re here.

When Is This Session Going To END?

Friday! But we’re not going to tell you which Friday. It could be toward the end of May; toward the middle or end of June; or even Friday, July 3rd is a possibility. We do, however, believe the end will come before Thanksgiving Day. Yes, this upcoming Thanksgiving Day.

We’ll have a wrap-up as soon as we can feasible put one together upon adjournment – shortly after Friday.

Status of Appropriations Bills (as of Friday, May 15, 2015)

https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/BL/673809.pdf

Selected links:

Justice Reform Consortium Leader Recognized: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/videos/life/2015/05/15/27407985/

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/life/2015/05/15/des-moines-iowa-letters-prison-inmates/27406393/

http://www.aclu-ia.org/2015/04/20/prison-reform-advocate-jean-basinger-receives-noun-award-2/

Criminal justice debt creates a permanent underclass

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/abetteriowa/2015/05/13/criminal-justice-debt/27266017/ R. Ben Stone, Des Moines Register, May 14, 2015.

Ombudsman’s Report as reporting by the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/BL/660546.pdf

Mentally Ill Inmates Are Routinely Physically Abused, Study Says:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/12/us/mentally-ill-prison-inmates-are-routinely-physically-abused-study-says.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0 TIMOTHY WILLIAMS.   The New York Times. MAY 12, 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

Save the Date

The Third Annual Iowa Summit on Justice and Disparities: August 28th & 29th at Drake University, Des Moines. If you missed the first two, be sure to mark your calendar for number three. The website currently contains last year’s information that shows the excellent speakers and program. Stay tuned for further information.

**********************************

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., May 19th 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

Next Month: John Carroll will speak to us at our June meeting.  He is responsible for DMACC classes and High School completion at ICIW.  John has worked closely with Rosemary Jungmann on winter and spring classes for the Friends 18 scholarship recipients.

John is a 1971 graduate of Loras College in Dubuque with a major in History and minor in Education, with a teaching certificate.  In 1980 John received a Masters Degree in Secondary Education Administration from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

From 1971-1979 he taught at Cromwell Children’s Unit, Mental Health Institute and was Education Program Administrator from 1980-86.  From 1986-1999 he was Distribution Manager for Showtime Party Sales (Tupperware Franchise).  He and his wife were on the President’s Council for Tupperware twice, also ranked in the Top 40 in Tupperware sales nationwide for two years.

In 2001 John became Education Program Manager for Newton Correctional Facility and ICIW, he was in that position until 2003.  From 2003-2012 he was Education Manager and Instructor at ICIW , from 2012 to the present he has been in charge of DMACC Correspondence and DMACC High School Completion.  We look forward to John’s presentation.

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; 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; Social Action Committee, Des Moines Presbytery; 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.

 

April 19, 2015 Newsletter

Vol. 6 #8 April 19, 2015

 

Time is running out to register for

MOBILIZING TO END MASS INCARCERATION:

AN ACTION CONFERENCE

 

 It isn’t Sex: It’s Survival

Fifteen-year-old Pam seemed to be coming on to Jim, a new employee at the juvenile detention center where she had been taken after mouthing off to a police officer, causing an interference with official acts charge. Jim had asked her what seemed to be an innocent question about her family, but Pam felt trapped and afraid. A complex defense system instinctively kicked in. She had learned at a very young age that promiscuous behavior kept men from getting too close and allowed her to feel a false sense of being in control. And since Pam was not ready to open up the flood gate of pain generated from ten years of sexual abuse, seducing men was an effective means of avoiding intimacy. Luckily for Jim, if he chooses to take advantage of Pam, Iowa law dictates that it is an aggravated misdemeanor charge that would probably be pleaded down. After all, Pam was asking for it and Jim is just a red-blooded man, right?

Pam symbolizes numerous children in Iowa that are born into difficult situations: parents with alcohol and drug problems; ongoing physical or sexual abuse; and numerous other reasons for neglect that have peppered Iowa’s landscape for generations. These young people will wind up in various environments: foster care; institutions controlled by the Department of Human Services; juvenile detention and juvenile shelter care homes; psychiatric medical institutions for children; or treatment facilities for persons with substance-related disorders. Unfortunately, those who take advantage of these troubled youth will receive a punishment much less severe under the law than if the victim was one of their luckier peers born into happy supportive households. Iowa has a well-established system of separating the “haves and have-nots” with different rules to apply. Emotionally damaged children, no matter how developed they are physically, lack the ability to consent. Sex without consent is rape. Rape should be a felony, but according to Iowa law, sexual misconduct with offenders and juveniles is an aggravated misdemeanor.

During a subcommittee meeting consisting of Senators Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids) Chair; Julian Garrett (R-Indianola); and Kevin Kinney (D-Oxford), it was determined that an amendment would be attached to House File 258, an act relating to sexual misconduct with offenders and juveniles. The intent of the original bill was to make a technical change. The proposed amendment was amenable to everyone present at the subcommittee meeting. It was considered because lobbyists for JRC and the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault had sought an enhanced penalty to correspond with current law. JRC was actually tougher in suggesting penalties than Iowa CASA. Our written testimony is here.

Incarcerated women, and men for that matter, are in no position to consent to sexual activity. Sure, there are laws to prevent it, but why is the punishment for the offender – the person with authority over the inmate – less than that of an ordinary citizen?

It would and should be a felony to have sex with offenders and juveniles, but sadly, the amendment was never attached. As currently written, it remains an aggravated misdemeanor instead of a felony. The bill is on the way to the governor to be signed into law.

 Quote of the century

Before our white brothers arrived to make us civilized men,
we didn’t have any kind of prison. Because of this, we had no delinquents.
Without a prison, there can be no delinquents.
We had no locks nor keys and therefore among us there were no thieves.
When someone was so poor that he couldn’t afford a horse, a tent or a blanket,
he would, in that case, receive it all as a gift.
We were too uncivilized to give great importance to private property.
We didn’t know any kind of money and consequently, the value of a human being
was not determined by his wealth.
We had no written laws laid down, no lawyers, no politicians,
therefore we were not able to cheat and swindle one another.
We were really in bad shape before the white men arrived and I don’t know
how to explain how we were able to manage without these fundamental things
that (so they tell us) are so necessary for a civilized society.

John (Fire) Lame Deer
Sioux Lakota – 1903-1976

Pioneer Lawmakers

On Tuesday, April 14, the co-founder and first advocate of Justice Reform Consortium, the Reverend Carlos Jayne, and current legislative advocate, Marty Ryan, were inducted as honorary members into the Pioneer Lawmakers Association of Iowa. The Pioneer Lawmakers Association is an organization that began in 1886 and carries on through this day.

Membership in the association becomes automatic to legislators who were elected to serve 20 years prior to the biennial reunion. In time, staff, lobbyists, reporters, and other legislative employees were made honorary members after they had completed twenty or more years in their service to the Iowa General Assembly and were nominated by a legislator.

Carlos began lobbying in the late 1980s and Marty began in 1992. The class of legislators that were inducted this month was first elected in 1994 and began their terms in 1995. The biggest issue of 1995 was House File 2, a bill that would reinstate capital punishment in Iowa. Carlos and Marty were very instrumental in efforts that defeated HF 2 in the Senate 11-39 that year after it had passed the House, 54-44.

Below is the first invitation sent out in 1885 and published in several newspapers throughout the state

REUNION OF OLD-TIME LAW-MAKERS.

At the suggestion of many members of the early State legislatures, a call is hereby issued for a reunion of the old-time law-makers of Iowa, to be held at Des Moines on the 24th and 2~th days of February, 1886. All surviving members and officers of the Territorial and State legislatures up to and including the Eleventh General Assembly, are to attend and participate in the reunion.

 

What’s Alive; What’s Dead

The following consist of a small sample of bills that are moving, and which JRC has attempted to influence the passage or defeat.

Senate Fill 448 AGAINST

This bill is a terrible attempt to make Iowa Code comply with major U.S. Supreme Court cases and Iowa Supreme Court decisions as it pertains to juveniles who commit class “A” felonies. See a previous JRC Newsletter on this issue. Despite our best efforts, the bill is on its way to the governor’s office for his approval. The really sad part of this story is the fact that there is no story. The debate in the House and Senate is evidence enough.  Senate Video Archive: 2015-03-17 and 2015-03-17  House Video Archive: 2015-04-08

House File 567 AGAINST

An act relating to controlled substances, including 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. House File 567 was a pretty good bill in its infancy. That was back when it was HF 279. House File 279 allowed cities and counties to assess civil penalties on retailers that advertised or sold synthetic substances, targeted generally at adolescents. In its transformation from HF 279 to HF 567, the bill grew beyond its initial intent. Now, the bill’s target is the consumer, focusing again on more of the same failed policy that government has failed to recognize. JRC was undecided on HF 279. We cannot say the same for HF 567. We oppose it, strongly. HF 567 passed the House 83-13 on March 17. H.J. 601. “To the extent convictions occur under the provisions of the Bill, there will be a minority impact, specifically on Blacks. Blacks are about 3.3% of the Iowa population but are about 27.3% of the convictions impacted under this Bill.” The bill passed out the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 2. It is eligible for debate any time between now and the end of the session. No change in status on the bill from last issue.

Senate File 385 FOR

A bill relating to the expungement of not-guilty verdicts and dismissed criminal-charge records. SF 385 passed the Senate on March 17 with a vote of 50-0. S.J. 613. The bill was amended and passed the House 96-0 on April 14; it passed the Senate for the final time two dates later 42-0. It now goes to the governor for his approval.

Senate File 292 FOR

A bill that provides for the confidentiality of certain juvenile court records. SF 292 passed the Senate unanimously (50-0) on March 18. S.J. 644. It passed the House 98-0 on April 8. The bill has been enrolled and is ready for the governor’s signature.  

House File 258 Undecided, but . . .

This bill was the subject of our lead article in a recent newsletter, Vol. 6, #5. It is also the lead article in this current edition.

Selected links:

For Mentally Ill Inmates, a Cycle of Jail and Hospitals http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/nyregion/for-mentally-ill-inmates-a-cycle-of-jail-and-hospitals.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0 MICHAEL WINERIP and MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ. The New York Times. APRIL 10, 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

MOBILIZING TO END MASS INCARCERATION: AN ACTION CONFERENCE

SATURDAY, MAY 2, 2015

8:30 AM until 4:00 PM

GERARD HALL, ALLEN COLLEGE OF NURSING

WATERLOO, IOWA

 

Program

8:30 AM          Sign in and coffee

9:00 AM          Keynote Address – Mr. David Liners

10:00 AM        Action Panel # 1 – Keeping people out of the prison system

11:30 AM        Lunch (vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options available.)

12:15 PM        Action Panel # 2 – Creating reasonable sentencing, parole and probation policies

1: 45 PM         Action Panel # 3 – Supporting and reintegrating those returning from prison

3:15 PM          Working together statewide- creating an action network.

4:00 PM          Conference ends

David Liners is the Executive Director of WISDOM, a Wisconsin network of faith based organizations, part of the international Gamaliel Foundation.   Under his leadership, the statewide network has grown from three to eleven diverse, interfaith organizations in Wisconsin. He helps develop new models and strategies for a variety of projects. He holds a BA from Marquette University, a Masters of Divinity from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and a Doctor of Ministry from St. Mary of the Lake University. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

WISDOM

WISDOM aims to deepen relationships among faith based communities to empower people to address the root causes of social injustice. It encompasses 11 organizations across the state but maintains the grassroots basis for its decision-making. It is able to mobilize large numbers of people in a relatively short time around a defined and disciplined method. It has launched the 11×15 movement, which takes a comprehensive approach to reducing the prison population in Wisconsin through policy change.

“In my experience, people who have been incarcerated rarely have difficulty identifying the parallels between… [the old Jim Crow system]… and [mass incarceration].

Once they are released, they are often denied the right to vote, excluded from juries, and relegated to a racially subordinated existence. Through a web of laws, regulations, and informal rules…powerfully reinforced by social stigma, they are confined to the margins of mainstream society and denied access to the mainstream economy.

They are legally denied the ability to obtain employment, housing, and public benefits – much as African Americans were once force into a segregated, second class citizenship by Jim Crow.”

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness

SPONSORS

War on Drugs Task Force of Cedar Valley Citizens for Undoing Racism

Justice Reform Consortium of Iowa

Interfaith Alliance of Iowa

Iowa Unitarian Universalist Witness and Advocacy Network

Waterloo Commission on Human Rights

Registration Form

Name ________________________________

Address _________________________

________________________________

E-mail ___________________________

Phone ___________________________

Do you represent an organization? ________________________________

Registration Fee

$25 if submitted after April 15, 2015

 

______Scholarship requested (must be a person with limited resources.)

Checks payable to: Waterloo Commission on Human Rights

Mail registration to:

Waterloo Commission on Human Rights,

620 Mulberry St.

Waterloo, IA 50703.

 

For further information contact:

allen.hays@uni.edu

 

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., April 21st 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

UPCOMING MEETINGS & PRESENTERS

 

Our April speaker is John Carroll, who is responsible for DMACC Correspondence and High School completion at ICIW.  John has worked closely with Rosemary Jungmann on classes for the Friends 18 scholarship recipients this winter and spring.

John is a 1971 graduate of Loras College in Dubuque with a major in History and minor in Education, with a teaching certificate.  In 1980 John received a Masters Degree in Secondary Education Administration from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

From 1971-1979 he taught at Cromwell Children’s Unit, Mental Health Institute and was Education Program Administrator from 1980-86.  From 1986-1999 he was Distribution Manager for Showtime Party Sales (Tupperware Franchise).  He and his wife were on the President’s Council for Tupperware twice, also ranked in the Top 40 in Tupperware sales nationwide for two years.

In 2001 John became Education Program Manager for Newton Correctional Facility and ICIW; he was in that position until 2003.  From 2003-2012 he was Education Manager and Instructor at ICIW , from 2012 to the present he has been in charge of DMACC Correspondence and DMACC High School Completion.

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; Iowa-Nebraska Chapter NAACP; and Urban Dreams.

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.

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