1st JRC Newsletter of 2018

Vol. 9 #1 January 22, 2018

The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword

Last year, a Senate Subcommittee met to discuss Senate File 88, an “act relating to the use of a simulated firearm or simulated explosive when committing a robbery, the criminal offense of intimidation, or other crimes, and providing penalties.”  It didn’t go anywhere.  The bill was brought forward by the Iowa County Attorneys Association since robberies with a simulated gun have the same traumatic effect on a victim as does a real gun.

This year, a bill similar to SF 88 Senate Study Bill 3006 has been introduced and a subcommittee has met to discuss its merits.  SSB 3006 moves the involvement of “simulated firearm” from the robbery section of the Code to the definition section of the criminal Code. This broad sweep of what constitutes a “simulated” firearm is ill-advised for the following reasons and continues to carry grave concerns about the potential effect of enactment.

A “simulated firearm” cannot be listed as a dangerous weapon because it is NOT a dangerous weapon.  The definition of dangerous weapon is

any instrument or device designed primarily for use in inflicting death or injury upon a human being or animal, and which is capable of inflicting death upon a human being when used in the manner for which it was designed [and includes] any instrument or device of any sort whatsoever which is actually used in such a manner as to indicate that the defendant intends to inflict death or serious injury upon the other, and which, when so used, is capable of inflicting death upon a human being.

Iowa Code section 702.7 (2017)(Emphasis added.)

“The pen is mightier than the sword,” but you can’t list the pen as a dangerous weapon.  Actually, you can.  A pen, along with a simulated firearm, are already included in the definition of “Dangerous Weapon”.

Additionally, any instrument or device of any sort whatsoever which is actually used in such a manner as to indicate that the defendant intends to inflict death or serious injury upon the other, and which, when so used, is capable of inflicting death upon a human being, is a dangerous weapon.

Iowa Code section 702.7 (2017)(Emphasis added.)

Perhaps it’s a stretch to think that a pen or a simulated gun “is capable of inflicting death upon a human being”, but it’s not impossible.  Federal case law acknowledges that an unworkable gun or an unloaded gun is a dangerous weapon (“a gun can cause harm when used as a bludgeon”), even though the Code definition does not necessarily include those devices. U.S. v. York, 830 F.2d 885, 891 (8th Cir. 1987).  There is no need to expand the definition to cover every device.  A vague definition of a simulated firearm is broad enough to cover an incident in which a person uses an exposed index finger with the thumb pointing up.  It will include a paint gun, some cigarette lighters designed to look like pistols, and a water (squirt) gun.

From a practical point, if committing a crime with a real firearm or a simulated firearm carries the same penalty, why would a perpetrator settle for the simulated weapon?

The impact on our criminal justice system, particularly the potential increase in our prison population and future workloads of community-based corrections could be pushed beyond manageable limits.  The fiscal impact statement on SF 88 contains a significant minority impact. SSB 3006 possibly could have an exacerbated impact on minorities.

Those who use simulated devices are already being convicted of offenses that carry significant sentences (i.e. State v. Tate, 885 NW2d. 220 (IA Ct. App. 2016)(Defendant was sentenced to 10 years for 2nd degree robbery when the jury found no gun was used, although defendant had lifted his shirt to imply he had a weapon.))

We oppose the bill on the arguments mentioned above, but we are in the process of developing some language that we intend to offer as an alternative.  We understand the trauma a person experiences when being held up, whether the perpetrator has a weapon or not.  Our solution will be to offer counseling to those affected by the incident.

 Death Penalty Legislation

A bill to bring back the death penalty was introduced Thursday in the Iowa Senate. Senate Study Bill 3042 would allow the penalty of death for the first-degree murder of a peace officer. Justice Reform Consortium strongly opposes capital punishment.  See the NOTICE below about Iowans Against the Death Penalty General Membership meeting on Feb. 8th.

 Lifetime Registration

House File 163 is a bill that establishes a new tier of sex offender registration.  Essentially, it will require every sex offender to register for life.  Under the bill’s provisions, if a sex offender is not currently on a lifetime registration, the sex offender is required to continue a limited registration upon completion of the offender’s requirements.  The new requirement would have all sex offenders, even those that have completed their registration and other requirements, including those moving into Iowa from another state, to register with the sheriff.  The registration would not be accessible to the public.  Justice Reform Consortium believes this is more punitive than remedial, and therefore will not be able to stand up to a constitutional challenge.

The most recent authority on this matter is the United States Supreme Court decision of Smith v. Doe, 538 U.S. 84 (2003), written almost 15 years ago.  The Court held that Alaska’s sex offender registry was not punitive, and therefore did not violate the Constitution’s Ex Post Facto clause.

However, things have changed.

“If the intention of the legislature was to impose punishment, that ends the inquiry [and the registry is unconstitutional]. If, however, the intention was to enact a regulatory scheme that is civil and nonpunitive, we must further examine whether the statutory scheme is “`so punitive either in purpose or effect as to negate [the State’s] intention’ to deem it `civil.'” Ibid. (quoting United States v. Ward, 448 U. S. 242, 248-249 (1980)).” Smith v. Doe, 538 U.S. 84, 92 (2003).  Creating a new tier of offenders who must register is punitive, especially considering that new facts have been discovered in the past decade and a half.

“The [Alaska] [L]egislature found that “sex offenders pose a high risk of reoffending,” and identified “protecting the public from sex offenders” as the “primary governmental interest” of the law. 1994 Alaska Sess. Laws ch. 41, § 1.”  Smith v. Doe, 538 U.S. 84, 93 (2003).  That statement is no longer true.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has found that a mere 5 percent of sex offenders are rearrested for another sex crime within 3 years of being released from prison.  https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm   Five percent is hardly a “high risk”.  A challenge to this scheme today could invite the temptation of the Supreme Court to overturn the decision in Smith.  At the time of Smith, very little was known about the recidivism rates of sex offenders.  Justice Kennedy, who wrote the Smith v. Doe decision, had also written the Kansas v. Hendricks decision, which led to civil commitment laws, and based his information “on his own language from [the Hendricks decision]. It characterized the risk of a sex offender committing another sex crime as “frightening and high” — as high as 80 percent, Kennedy held.”  https://psmag.com/news/whats-the-real-rate-of-sex-crime-recidivism Sex offenders who have been committed under Hendricks are violent sexual predators and have a mental abnormality or defect.  Not every sex offender is a “sexually violent predator”; far from it.

It is the sexually violent predators in Iowa’s civil commitment unit in Cherokee that consist of the group of offenders in which Justice Kennedy referred, and not the bulk of sex offenders who must register under Iowa’s current registry system.  “So how close to the truth is Kennedy’s “frightening and high” assertion? “There’s no empirical evidence to support that statement, [] We have lots and lots of recidivism research over like 25 years … and all of the recidivism studies are remarkably consistent that the number of people re-arrested for a new sex crime is somewhere between 5 and 15 percent.””  Id.

If a Tier IV category is established through HF 163, the burden is on the state to defend the law’s intent that it remains a civil matter, rather than a matter that is punitive in nature.  If the state fails in its arguments, flood gates open to continuing litigation of constitutional questions, such as:  Ex post facto; cruel & unusual punishment, due process, and others.

JRC is watching closely the progress of this legislation.

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Life after Prison:  A New Guide for Iowans

Inside Out Reentry, with support from the Iowa Department of Corrections, is pleased to announce a new guide offering resources and services for those returning from incarceration.

  • WHAT:  A newly-created collaborative guide to reentry support resources across the state.  This database provides contacts to non-department of corrections resources facilitating return to the community. The guide includes: substance abuse services, housing options, mental health resources, AA/NA, support groups and much more.  The information has been made available at all nine Iowa correctional institutions (as of Dec. 15), in addition to the work release residential facilities.  It is posted online at:  http://www.insideoutreentry.com/ and will be updated every 6 months.

This guide was created by Inside Out Reentry Community with the help of Iowa correctional staff from several institutions.  We invite everyone to help us supplement this information to make our service directory complete.  Please contact us at:  insideoutreentry@gmail.com to add information or make corrections.

Inside Out Reentry Community is a non-profit organization based in Johnson County that provides comprehensive reentry support for those returning to our community after incarceration.  Inside Out opened its doors in January 2015 and assists returning citizens with employment, housing, connecting to services, peer support, mentoring, and more.

  • WHY:  The Iowa Department of Corrections estimates that 95% of current inmates will eventually be released to their communities. The moment of release represents a critical point in time that can make or break an individual’s successful reintegration into society.  Our communities are better off when the women and men leaving prison find success in moving forward.

The Council of State Governments in a 2005 study states that ‘ideally, an individual in prison has worked on cultivating relationships with community-based organizations and support systems as part of a larger reentry plan.”  By making these resources available before someone is released from prison, work release or jail, Iowa can foster connections with such organizations and support systems and thus, encourage successful reentry.

Besides making this database available in Iowa’s prisons and work release centers, we also hope to make this information available to anyone who needs support after serving time in jail.

  • WHO BENEFITS:  Anybody who is looking for support and assistance following incarceration. Family members and friends of those returning from incarceration.  (see testimonial below)

Contacts

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

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

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

Testimonial:

Dec. 19, 2017

I wanted to express my gratitude to the staff and volunteers at Inside Out Reentry.  I am from Des Moines and with my mandatory on a drug offense expiring on Jan. 20, 2018, I was recently run up for parole.

While incarcerated, I have involved myself in many groups, activities and inmate council to prepare myself to transition smoothly and successfully into society and the work force.  All of these “inside” activities were beneficial for me, yet I was still lacking in community-based connections necessary for my release.  Housing was an especially difficult task for me to complete.  However, with your recent state-wide resource directory and guide, I was able to personally connect with the director of an organization in Des Moines who quickly accepted me into one of their houses.  It completed my parole plan and my parole was granted on the 14th of December.

This new guide is a great resource for men and women facing the challenges of release.  Thank you so much to Inside Out for sharing this resource with all the institutions across Iowa.

Tom Schilling

IMCC/Oakdale

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

Iowans Against the Death Penalty will hold a general membership meeting at Northwest Community of Christ Church, 3003 62nd Street in Des Moines (3 blocks west of Merle Hay Rd. on Urbandale Ave.) on Thursday, February 8th at 6:30 pm.

Senate Study Bill 3042 was introduced on Thursday, January 18th.  SSB 3042 is a bill for an act creating a capital murder offense by establishing the penalty of death for murder in the first degree of a peace officer.

SSB 3042 has been assigned to the subcommittee consisting of Senators Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig); Amy Sinclair (R- Allerton); and Rich Taylor (D- Mount Pleasant).  No subcommittee meetings have been scheduled at this time.

Pod cast of Wednesday’s discussion on WHO on the death penalty: Should Iowa Reinstate The Death Penalty? (Jeff Angelo-Hour 1-1/17) https://whoradio.iheart.com/featured/jeff-angelo-on-the-radio/content/2018-01-17-should-iowa-reinstate-the-death-penalty-jeff-angelo-hour-1-117/#.WmEU4KGJ4EE.email

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SAVE THE DATE!

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT:  Mark your calendars for the evening of October 8th. The Iowa Coalition for Juvenile Justice (a focus group of Iowa CURE) is bringing Jeanne Bishop, author of the moving book, “Change of Heart, Justice, Mercy, and Making Peace with my Sister’s Killer”.  (Tentative location is the court room of the Drake Law Center.)

Ms. Bishop’s sister, brother-in-law and their unborn child were brutally killed in their home 25 years ago.  In her book she tells of her journey confronting and finally reconciling with the man who took their lives.

Brian Stevenson, Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of “Just Mercy” says,  “This is an extraordinary witness for survivors of crime and all of us who seek a more compassionate thoughtful and responsible way to manage the tragic ways we hurt each other”

You won’t want to miss this opportunity to hear Jeanne Bishop and her inspiring story of healing and peace.

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The January meeting of Iowa CURE will be held on January 28th (Sunday) at 2 p.m. at Trinity LA United Methodist Church (1548 8th Street)  Our legislative advocates: Marty Ryan and Stephanie Fawkes-Lee will be with us to give us an up to date rundown on what is happening during this legislative session and how we  can influence our legislators.  Please plan to attend

August/September Newsletter

Vol. 5 #11 September 9, 2014

IDOC Phone Rates

Here in Iowa, the Office of the Ombudsman has expressed concern regarding the proposed phones rates being put forward by the Iowa Department of Corrections. Members of the Ombudsman’s staff attended the July 11 meeting of the Iowa Department of Corrections and presented a number of documents in support of their concerns. In a cover letter, they expressed concern about telephone rates that are charged to offenders above and beyond the cost of providing the service, and being used to pay salaries and benefits with telephone fees.

It should be noted that, although Board meetings are open to the public, until recently the public could not comment without getting prior approval from the chairperson. We were able to convince the IDOC staff that there should be a time for public comment. This has been added at the very end of the Board agenda. This means that the public cannot give input until after the Board has made their decisions.

On August 8, the Iowa Board of Corrections held the first of their budget meetings. Ruth Cooperrider, who is the State Ombudsman, asked that she be allowed to speak before the introduction of two action items regarding the phone rates. She was given permission to do so. She presented a one-page handout which outlined the information about the current phone rates, a proposal made at the July meeting of the Board, and the DOC Proposal now being presented for approval by the Board. This is as follows:

“$3.15 flat rate for all calls, (including international) from 1 to 20 minutes in length.”

The recommendation by the Ombudsman’s Office is that rates be just, reasonable, and fair, and that they consider the framework created by the FCC, including the implementation of a cost-based system. Under the DOC proposal, the cost of a local call would go from $2.00 to $3.15. This would have a significant impact on prisoners and their families as local calls account for 58% of offender minutes. After many years of urging the Department to reduce phone rates, families took matters into their own hands and began to buy cell phones and get a local phone number in the area where their family member was incarcerated. Thus, a call to their loved one is only $2. The IDOC has been quite angry about this development, as this had a significant impact on the profits on phone calls.

The second item being presented by the DOC for approval by the board is “Telephone Rebate Expenditures for FY 2015”. The total amount of “rebates”, or profits from the phone system is $413,813. This includes an expenditure of $350,000 for Education Funding, $62,813, and $1000 for Translation Services.

For many years, Iowa CURE and International CURE have recommended a revenue-neutral phone system. We do not understand why the prisoners and families and friends who use the inmate telephone system should pay for the cost of education services for prisoners, or why they should pay the cost of operating the system.

The two action items were presented to the Board for approval and they voted to table both items until they could get more information.

Director Baldwin appeared to be very angry and expressed that by saying that 5 or 6 times staff from the Ombudsman’s office have come to IDOC meetings, passed out information to the board, which has not been reviewed by the department and asked to speak. He stated that they do try to give opportunities for family connections with their loved ones in prison and gave the “O” mail system as an example. Fred Scaletta, Deputy Warden for Public Relations, spoke of the requirement that all revenues must be used to benefit prisoners as justification for the rates. He also noted that a number of organizations are appealing the ruling by the Federal Communication Commission.

From notes taken at Board meeting by Jean Basinger, President of Iowa CURE

Incarcerated in Iowa

The University of Iowa and Iowa Department of Corrections paired up last Saturday (Sept. 6th) in Iowa City to conduct a symposium on being “Incarcerated in Iowa” at the University Conference Center (in Old Capitol Mall). Please visit the website at your convenience to catch the recorded morning events as soon as they are posted. http://www.incarceratediniowa.com/

A reported account of the day’s activities can be found in the Monday edition of The Daily Iowan (see links below).

Selected links:

http://www.dailyiowan.com/2014/09/08/Metro/38880.html UI Prison Projects Coalition stages symposium. McAndrew, Mitch. The Daily Iowan. SEPTEMBER 8, 2014.

http://www.anunspocket.com/2014/08/an-invisible-cloak-of-love.html Nuns have deep pockets? An Invisible Cloak of Love. Martin, Lisa. Congregation of the Humility of Mary. AUGUST 22, 2014.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/us/california-revises-policy-on-mentally-ill-inmates.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0 California Revises Policy on Mentally Ill Inmates. Goode, Erica. New York Times. AUGUST 12, 2014.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/08/25/icreach-nsa-cia-secret-google-crisscross-proton/ NSA search engine ICREACH passes a staggering amount of data to domestic law enforcement. ICReach.

Please help us with a generous contribution. Thanks!

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

Here is my contribution of $________________________________

Submit your subscription payment to:

Jean Basinger

Justice Reform Consortium

c/o Trinity United Methodist Church

P.O. Box 41005

Des Moines, IA 50311

Name: ___________________________________________________________

Address: ________________________________________________________

City: ____________________________State__________Zip_______________

UPCOMING EVENTS

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

 

The next Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners meeting is at noon on Tues., September 15th at Wesley United Methodist Church, 800 East 12th.

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

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

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.

 

Developing Brain,

Developing Accountability:

Using Science to Direct Our Policy and Practice for Educating, Disciplining and Growing Our Children into Accountable Adults

September 29, 2014

Registration begins: 8:00 a.m. Conference concludes: 3:30 p.m.

The conference will be moving to the Community Choice Ballroom in the Iowa Events Center on the same date and time – Monday, September 29 from 9 am – 3:30 pm.

Iowa Events Center (Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center)

730 Third Street

Ballroom B – 4th level of Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center

Des Moines, IA 50309

Parking is available north of the Iowa Events Center with entrances off the following streets: Third, Fifth and Crocker. Iowa Events Center surface lots offer the closest and most convenient access to the facility, and easy access to I-235 and other major routes after the event. ADA accessible parking is available at the Iowa Events Center by entering the lot south of Crocker Street, next to Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center. The cost is $7. A map, directions, and information regarding parking can be found here.

The Brain Science is Clear

The youth brain is uniquely different than that of an adult. That reality has profound implications for how we educate, discipline and nurture our children in our schools, justice system and our community.

This conference will feature a series of brief, dynamic and interactive presentations from some of the leading experts in the field on this important topic. Learn what’s happening locally and, most important, learn what you can do to create a safe community where every child counts!

For more information, contact: Des Moines University, CME Lana Herteen, Blank Children’s Hospital (515) 271-1596 (515) 241-6726 cme@dmu.edu lana.herteen@unitypoint.org

To Register: www.dmu.edu/event/developingbrain/ Fee: $20; students free. Lunch provided. CEUs/CMEs pending.

 

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

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

Copyright © 2014. You may copy, download and print the information in this newsletter provided you do so in an unaltered manner, with full copyright acknowledgement and website link. This newsletter may also be found online in PDF format at: http://justicereformconsortium.org/?page_id=19 and at: http://iowappa.com/?page_id=407

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

 

Phoney Profits

The Iowa Department of Corrections has a long history of charging excessive amounts for inmate phone calls which have resulted in huge profits at the expense of inmates and their families.

For a number of years the spokesperson for the department, Fred Scaletta, has told us that the Department is working on a new contact that will lower the rates. It never happens. In addition to this, the current service is very poor. Many of the phones are located outside, making it impossible for prisoners to make calls during bad weather. There are often interruptions in calls and this means that the caller is charged an additional fee to call back. For many years all calls were collect with the rates very high. Collecting the fees from families, who are often low income, was not always easy. The Department switched to prepaid calls. This means that they are able to collect the fees at the time a call is made with no loss. When the switch was made to prepaid calls the charges went UP. Collect calls were also eliminated so if prisoners don’t have money in their accounts they can’t make calls.

For many years the Iowa Chapter of Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants has participated in a national campaign for affordable phone charges. In a growing number of states, such as our neighbors, Nebraska and Michigan rates are now revenue neutral. This means that the charge is only what it costs to operate the system.

We now have a unique opportunity to participate in a campaign to give input to the Federal Communication Commission regarding excessive inmate phone charges. They are officially proposing new rules which would lower the interstate phone rate for prisoners.

WE are being asked by The Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, Media Action Grassroots Network, Prison Legal News and a number of other human rights and justice organizations to encourage our members to submit letters to the FCC by March 25!

In order for your letter to be accepted you need to include 3 things:

Rulemaking number (12-375),

Your name and address, your views on the subject

Comments through the U.S. Postal Service should be mailed to:

 

Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,

Federal Communications, Commission,

Office of the Secretary,

445 12th St. SW

Room TW-B204,

Washington, D.C. 20554

Comments cannot be e-mailed.

Sample Letter:

Name:

Address:

FCC Proceeding: 12-375

 

Commissioners and Staff,

 

(Insert your reasons for feeling that inmate phone charges are excessive. Include personal experiences it you have had them.)

 

Closing: “You have the authority to help families of inmates by lowering the amount per minute the companies are able to charge, and a choice in services so maybe that will bring the fees down. Thank you for looking into this matter.”

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

I have much more information which I can send you, but I have trying to give you the basics and I hope that you will respond on behalf of your organizations and individually as well. We hope that changes in the rules regarding interstate calls will also affect the cost of local and calls made within the states.

Thank you; please act so that your letter is received by March 25!!!

Jean Basinger, President of Iowa CURE and Chairperson, Steering Committee, Justice Reform Consortium

 

 

Iowa CURE Legislative Workshop

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

IOWA CURE LEGISLATIVE WORKSHOP

 

WHEN: JANUARY 27, 2 TO 4 P.M.

WHERE: COTTAGE GROVE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH,

38TH & COTTAGE GROVE AVENUE, DES MOINES, IA

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

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

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

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

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

PLEASE REGISTER!

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

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

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

Planning Committee Members:

Carolyn Walker Uhlenhake,

Mary Kay Dial,

Sr. JoAnne Talarico

 

JRC Posts Newsletter for October

This newsletter is available as a PDF at: http://justicereformconsortium.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Vol-3.No14.pdf

 

Vol. 3 #14 October 8, 2012

COLUMBUS DAY

Parole Board Changes Procedure

The Iowa Board of Parole is in the process of amending its procedure that allows inmates in the Iowa Prison System to be released on parole or work release. Changes are currently going through the administrative rules procedure.

For years, the process used for releasing offenders was based upon a risk assessment score. The higher the score, the more Parole Board members had to agree to release the offender. The change that’s coming will require a panel of three Board members to approve the release. If one member of the panel does not agree to release a prisoner, parole or work release is denied.

Justice Reform Consortium (JRC) supports the Iowa Board of Parole’s Intended Action and believes that a system based upon scores is a poor process of determining a person’s future. Scores are for baseball and soccer; we’re happy to see this outdated system go by the wayside. JRC does not condemn the use of risk assessment instruments; but they should be considered as a part of the process, not the brunt of the process. The proposed rules offer a better procedure in deciding who should make the transition from incarceration to release, and the means of how that reintroduction to society should take place.

You Have Made a Difference

In the most recent JRC Newsletter, we had asked you to “contact one or more members (perhaps all of them) of the DOC Board of Directors and encourage them to support Board Director Hammond in her quest to have the backing of the entire Board to introduce” legislation that will regulate the use of restraints on pregnant prisoners in the DOC, but particularly in the numerous county jails throughout the state.

At the Board’s September 14 meeting, a unanimous vote was achieved to include this issue as a part of the Iowa DOC’s legislative agenda. Thanks for making it happen! We look forward to working with the Iowa DOC during this upcoming legislative session to successfully enact this necessary proposition that will ensure uniform compliance throughout the state.

JRC Welcomes Citizens for Undoing Racism-War on Drugs Task Force

Over the summer, representatives of Justice Reform Consortium traveled to Waterloo to meet with Citizens for Undoing Racism-War on Drugs Task Force. Upon the conclusion of a couple of meetings, the two groups decided to come together in an effort to work collectively on issues that are so similar to both groups.

R. Allen Hays, Director, Public Policy Program at the University of Northern Iowa, and a co-founder of the group, said: “I believe that the criminal justice system is one of the most destructive forces in communities of color and that a lot of its destructive impact is linked to the War on Drugs, which has been fought largely as a war on minorities.”

Last March, the group brought Major Neill Franklin to the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area to speak. Franklin is a retired police officer who is Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). He left attendees with a powerful message about the futility and destructiveness of the War on Drugs as it is currently being carried out. Over 100 people had attended his lecture.

This group is seeking ways that a small community group can exert influence on policies that are largely made at the state and federal levels. It is with this vision that the Citizens for Undoing Racism-War on Drugs Task Force joined forces with JRC.

We welcome Citizens for Undoing Racism-War on Drugs Task Force as another one of the many organizations that add to the strength of JRC. If you live in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area we encourage you to become involved with this enthusiastic group of citizens. Please contact Al Hays at [allen.hays@uni.edu].

AMOS Announces Five Part Course on Criminal Justice

The Criminal Justice Team of AMOS and the AMOS Institute of Public Life are sponsoring a unique Five Part Course on the Criminal Justice System in Iowa taught by Fred Van Liew, Director of the Center for Restorative Justice Practices in Des Moines and former Bureau Chief with the Polk County Attorney’s Office for nearly 20 years.

There are alarming, disturbing trends occurring in our criminal justice system both nationally and locally that, as people of faith and citizens of a democracy, we can not ignore. Fred will be teaching how the system works, both inside and out, and drawing from both his experience and recent scholarship in books like The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.

The course will be offered, free of charge, at two different Des Moines locations. The classes are the same each week so participants can attend classes at either location and you do not have to attend all the classes.

All classes run from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Classes at First Unitarian Church, 1800 Bell Avenue, Des Moines:

Mondays – October 1, 15 November 5 & 19

Classes at Bethel AME, 1528 E. University, Des Moines:

Thursdays – October 4, 11 November 1 & 8

Final Class will be joint class at First Unitarian on Monday, December 3rd at 6:30 p.m.

You can register for the class at First Unitarian at their website – http://ucdsm.org/fall-2012#restorative

Register for class at Bethel by calling 266-1871

See you soon!

AMOS Leadership Team

 

CURE International Calls for Sex Offender Registries to be Abolished

International CURE conducted its board of directors meeting at Hotel Harrington in Washington, DC, during the Labor Day weekend Sept. 1 – 4. The following was unanimously passed by the board and is now the official position of International CURE.

Charlie Sullivan, Executive Director, International CURE

A Position on the Sex Offender Registry –An Alternative Approach

CURE takes the position that sex offender registries be abolished. Present laws have rarely assisted in prevention of an abusive situation. Approximately 90% of all sex offenses are committed by a family member or close acquaintance[1]. Recidivism rates of less than 5% by convicted sex offenders[2] certainly mitigates against the efficacy of the tremendous expenditure for the registries.

Registration results in severe collateral consequences such as unemployment, homelessness, and often physical and humiliating attacks on registrants, their property, and families.

The sex offender registry has resulted in registrants and their families facing significant obstacles in building a life for themselves after incarceration. One of the best methods of prevention should be a positive life for a former sex offender – being on the registry can bring on some of the same characteristics that led the person into an abusive life in the past. Registration laws actually decrease public safety by making it more difficult for former offenders to reintegrate into society, ultimately increasing their likelihood of reoffending.

Our nation needs to change the presumptions that have led to such hysteria in thinking there is so much sexual abuse by those previously convicted. That theory has been fueled by “law and order” and “get tough on crime” approaches which have failed. It has taken on a mentality like the Salem witch trials of the past, or the infamous Japanese internment camps during World War II that were created out of fear. They are as ineffective and damaging as the infamous “war on
drugs” where other failed policies were applied to another group. And many benefitted from an industrial complex that developed, just as the present development with the sex offender registry industry.

Instead of producing a sense of safety, it has fostered and perpetuated a sense of fear amongst an uneasy public and inhibited positive, proactive discussion around the causes that can lead to an
abusive circumstance – causes that have nothing to do with how far away someone lives from a school or bus stop, or whether they are permanently rendered pariahs by a modern scarlet letter. These registries promote hatred and retaliation against former offenders, their families, and even their victims at times. It is counterproductive to enact such registries.

It is imperative that legislative bodies effectively address the problem and rescind, or seriously refine, the laws that are harmful and are not assisting in sex abuse prevention. It is time to take a smart approach, not a hysterical one.

By eliminating the registry, those resources saved could be re-directed to a concerted effort to educate the public – including media, social networks, and lawmakers – regarding the nature of
sexual offenses and how to protect children and the vulnerable from such activity. Sexual abuse is foremost a public health problem and cannot be effectively solved through the criminal justice system, as we have seen. The elimination of the registry will allow former sexual offenders to more effectively reintegrate into society.

CURE adamantly believes in the abolition of the sex offender registry as a wasteful, punitive, hateful, and an incapable example of political pandering.

JRC’s financial resources come from membership organizations and readers like you. JRC exists to give a voice to organizations that cannot afford their own lobbyist at the Iowa Capitol. We want to keep going strong for 2013. Will you consider a generous contribution, even if your generosity can only stretch to $5, to help our voice grow louder during the next session?

Please help us with your generous contribution today.

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

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Submit your subscription payment to:

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UPCOMING EVENTS

 

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CELEBRATION OF ART IN PASTELS

FEATURING WORKS OF THE WOMEN’S ART PROJECT AT THE IOWA WOMEN’S CORRECTIONAL FACILITY

THE FRAME WORKS

5800 Merle Hay Road

Johnston, Iowa

September 15 -October 19

Come and see these lovely pictures. They are also available for purchase with proceeds going to buy supplies, and to contribute to programs in the community.

If you have questions please call Penny Sullivan:jpenny.sullivan@yahoo.com.

Please share this information with others.

 

The next Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners meeting is at noon on Tues., Oct. 16th at Wesley United Methodist Church, 800 East 12th.

 

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.

 

Voices to be Heard is a support group for families and children of an incarcerated loved one. The group gathers to support and comfort those who know too well the grief that comes to those left behind when someone they love is incarcerated. The group meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at Union Park Methodist Church (East 12th & Guthrie in Des Moines) from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. The group brings in speakers, performs outreach, provide support groups and leadership classes. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 16th. Contact Sue for more information.

 

 

It’s not too late to go to this conference in Chicago – for virtually free

 

October 10th and 11th, 2012

 

Chicago, IL

 

Please Join Us!

 

Join advocates from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin this October in Chicago for an exciting opportunity to learn and build collaborations around raising public visibility for the issue of the federal courts and judicial nominations.

 

This training will feature nationally renowned trainers and provide you with the most up to date information on the state of our federal courts, the judicial emergency crisis, and strategies for raising awareness and action in support of a federal judiciary that is committed to constitutional values.

 

While public attention is focused on Congress, not much is given to the branch of government responsible for interpreting and enforcing our laws, especially our Constitutional rights. Regardless of your issue – civil liberties, the environment, religious freedom, reproductive rights – the federal courts have and will continue to issue decisions that have a significant impact on every aspect of our lives. And the individuals nominated by the President and confirmed by the US Senate as federal judges serve in lifetime seats making decisions that will affect generations to come.

 

Join us for an intensive training to share our knowledge and expertise about the courts and judges; learn more about the federal bench; and strategize how we can elevate this issue in our communities.

 

Registration Information:

 

Registration for this event is FREE. NCJW will provide the training, meals, (and accommodations for out of town guests) at no cost to you. We also have a limited amount of transportation reimbursements available so please let us know if you require assistance with travel costs.

 

Please email Elesha at elesha@ncjwdc.org or call her at 202-296-2588 ext. 8 to request an application. Applications are due no later than Tuesday, September 25th.

 

Space is limited so please reserve your spot today!

 

In This Training You Will Learn…

 

  • The impact of judicial emergencies and delays in filling court vacancies

 

  • Effective ways to advocate on this issue when speaking with the Administration and US Senate

 

  • Best ways to engage the media

 

  • Best practices for building public interest and engagement.

 

 

To Register or for Questions Contact:

 

Elesha Gayman Shahinllari

202-296-2588 ext. 8

elesha@ncjwdc.org

 

 

 

Presented by:

 

National Council of Jewish Women

 

In Partnership With:

 

Alliance for Justice

American Constitution Society

Center for American Progress

The Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights

People for the American Way Foundation

 

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

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[1] U.S.Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, /Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim,
Incident, and Offender Characteristics, /July 2000, NCJ 182990, table 4 and table 6.

[2] Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2003). /Recidivism of sex offenders released from prison in 1994 /(No. NCJ 198281). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.