Justice Reform Consortium has come to an end

JRC Comes to an End

In 2000, Jean Basinger and Rev. Carlos Jayne came up with an idea.  Build a consortium of non-profit organizations that cannot afford a lobbyist on their own, find common ground on issues, and have one lobbyist represent those issues before the Iowa Legislature.  Thus, Justice Reform Consortium (JRC) was born.

For 18 years, JRC lobbied to reform the criminal justice system, from one based on retributive justice to one based on restorative justice. It supported legislation that would provide increased funding for family connections, education, mental health and substance abuse treatment and reentry programs. The consortium of organizations believed that Iowa should be investing in drug and mental health courts and other community-based corrections, including those that serve the mentally ill who have become involved with the criminal justice system.

At the end of its run, JRC fought the enhancement or creation of new crimes unless there was empirical evidence that this approach would work as a deterrent on unwanted behaviors.  It was a necessary and at times an unpopular voice in the room.  The steering committee has determined that it is time to pass the baton.  We remain confident that others will continue to lend a voice for these important issues.

We thank the many supporters over the years for their financial gifts and time.  It has been greatly appreciated!

Final Report

 This is not only the final report for Justice Reform Consortium for the 2018 Legislative Session, it is the final report that Fawkes-Lee & Ryan will submit.

With a couple of exceptions, the following report contains only those bills that brought about a vote. It does not include bills in which the JRC declared “undecided”, every bill that did come to a vote, or bills without a “significant” connection to the work of JRC.

√ – a legislator’s vote was compatible to the position of the JRC.

x – a legislator’s vote was not compatible to the position taken by the JRC.

a – a legislator was not present, or did not vote on the bill.

p – a legislator had a conflict of interest and “passed” on the bill rather than vote.

n – a legislator was not serving in the chamber at the time the vote was taken.

The vote counts may be found online at:  Senate Votes, and House Votes.

There are many reasons why legislators vote for or against a bill.  If you have a question as to why your legislator voted a certain way, your representative or senator should be willing to give you an explanation.  We encourage you to sit down with your legislator(s) and discuss the issues with which you have a concern.

SELECTED JRC ISSUES

 #1HF 2399JUVENILE JUSTICEThe Iowa Department of Human Services proposed a measure that would have turned the Iowa Boys Training School at Eldora over to the Iowa Department of Corrections, changing the focus from rehabilitation to one of punishment.  JRC, along with other allies, worked diligently to prevent the bill from moving beyond its passage in the House.  HF 2399 passed the House 59-38video and was sent to the Senate.  The Senate did not consider the bill.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √. 

#2.  HF 2443JUVENILE JUSTICEThis bill offers several changes in Iowa’s law on Juvenile Justice.  Much of the bill addresses the confidentiality of juvenile delinquency records and allows disclosure in certain circumstances to particular people – such as judges, county attorneys, guardians ad litem, juvenile court officers, limited school officials, and others.  The bill also amends current law to provide that a hearing is required to be held within two working days of the time of a child’s admission to a shelter care facility and within one day of a child’s admission to a detention facility.  JRC SUPPORTED this bill. An “AYE” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.  HF 2443 passed the House unanimously, 98-0video. It also passed the Senate unanimously, 48-0 –video.  The governor has signed the bill into law. 

#3.  HF 2450CRIMINAL JUSTICE:  There have been close to 360 inmates in the United States who have been wrongfully convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, sentenced to prison, and have been exonerated through the process of DNA testing.  This bill, a project of the State Public Defender, allows a defendant who has been convicted of a felony or aggravated misdemeanor the opportunity to seek from the court an order to require that DNA analysis profiling be performed on evidence of a forensic sample in the case for which the person stands convicted if the DNA has not been analyzed previously.  HF 2450 passed the House 97-0video It was sent to the Judiciary Committee in the Senate but was never brought out of committee. A subcommittee had met, but did not advance the bill.  JRC SUPPORTED this bill. An “AYE” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √. 

#4.  HF 2492  – APPROPRIATIONS:  A bill that appropriates money for the Justice Systems (Dept. of Corrections, Dept. of Justice [Attorney General], Civil Rights Commission, Dept. of Public Safety, and several others).  An amendment on the floor of the House during debate, offered by Rep. Gary Wortham (R-Storm Lake), would have eliminated a pilot program established in Linn, Polk and Scott Counties that relies upon a risk assessment to release people charged with crimes (and pending trials) rather than the outdated use of bonds and bondsmen.   Rep. Rick Olson (D-Des Moines) offered an amendment to strike the prohibitive language from the bill, but a vote on the amendment failed.  The vote was not recorded.  Senator Tony Bisignano (D-Des Moines) offered an amendment in the Senate to strike the language and the vote was recorded.  Unfortunately, the amendment failed. Also, it would be unfair to list the recorded votes for this amendment because Sen. Bisignano had to vote against his own amendment in order to file a motion of reconsideration.   JRC OPPOSED this particular part of the bill because the section is an offensive and unjust provision harmful to poor persons accused but not convicted of a crime which denies them pre-trial release without bond with judge approval.  The bill passed on a party line vote.  Governor Reynolds exercised her line-item veto authority to strike Rep. Wortham’s amendment, restoring the pilot programs to those counties using them.  However, the item veto applies only through the end of the year[1]. The following is her veto message:

“House File 2492 is approved on this date with the following exceptions in Sections 5 and 17, of which I disapprove:

“The State of Iowa is currently taking part in a Public Safety Assessment (PSA) pilot program that provides judges with an objective, data-driven approach that they can use in pretrial proceedings when exercising their discretion. Sections 5 and 17 end that pilot program immediately.

“I disapprove of these sections because I believe that we should consider and study ways to create a fairer pretrial system that protects the public. But I also understand that the legislature and other stakeholders have questions about the PSA and whether it considers all of the appropriate factors. For that reason, I am instructing the agencies of the executive branch to continue their participation in this pilot program until December 31, 2018. At that time, the pilot will be concluded and further use of this assessment suspended until the data from the pilot can be analyzed. If, after studying the data and research conclusions, it is found that this program will be in the best interests of the public, then new legislation should be considered that authorizes the PSA or similar risk-assessment tools. I want to also emphasize that, even during the short pendency of the pilot project, the PSA does not and should not replace the judge’s discretion. The PSA is but one piece of information and the ultimate decision rests with each person sitting on the bench.”

The bill adds new sections to the Iowa Code, even though Republican leadership throughout the years has emphatically said that it would not use policy language in appropriations bills.  For example:

 

NEW SECTION. 719.9 Use of unmanned aerial vehicle —— prohibitions.

  1. As used in this section: a. “Facility” means a county jail, municipal holding facility, secure facility for the detention or custody of juveniles, community-based correctional facility, or institution under the management of the department of corrections.
  2. “Unmanned aerial vehicle” means a vehicle or device that uses aerodynamic forces to achieve flight and is piloted remotely.
  3. A person shall not operate an unmanned aerial vehicle knowing that the unmanned aerial vehicle is operating in, on, or above a facility and any contiguous real property comprising the surrounding grounds of the facility, unless the unmanned aerial vehicle is operated by a law enforcement agency or the person has permission from the authority in charge of the facility to operate an unmanned aerial vehicle in, on, or above such facility.
  4. This section does not apply to an unmanned aerial vehicle while operating for commercial use in compliance with federal aviation administration regulations, authorizations, or exemptions.
  5. A person who violates this section commits a class “D” felony.

The bill creates the PUBLIC SAFETY SUPPORT TRUST FUND.

PRISON READING ROOMS:

PRISON READING ROOMS Sec. 21. Section 904.310A, Code 2018, is amended by striking the section and inserting in lieu thereof the following: 904.310A Information or materials —— distribution. 1. Funds appropriated to the department or other funds made available to the department shall not be used to distribute or make available any commercially published information or material to an inmate when such information or material is sexually explicit or features nudity. 2. The department shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 17A to administer this section.

SPECIALTY COURTS —— STUDY

The judicial branch and the department of corrections in cooperation with the division of criminal and juvenile justice planning of the department of human rights, and the judicial district departments of correctional services, shall study the effectiveness and recidivism rates of persons assigned to the specialty courts of the judicial branch. The national center for state courts may be utilized in order to complete the study. The judicial branch shall file a report detailing the cost-effectiveness of the specialty courts including any recommendations with the general assembly and the fiscal services division of the legislative services agency by January 15, 2019.

As mentioned above, we do not publish the vote count on this particular piece of legislation.  JRC declares as “undecided” on this annual bill because content of the bill can change rapidly and because of the balance of good legislation with bad.

#5.  HF 2436 PROBATION:  An interesting bill introduced by Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion), it calls for an interim study committee to include recommendations relevant to the future use of intermediate criminal sanctions and policies surrounding technical and serious violations with the goal of reducing recidivism and admissions to prison for probation revocations, and increasing transparency and accountability.  The bill passed the House unanimously (98-0video), but was held up by a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee.  JRC SUPPORTED this bill. An “AYE” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#6.  HF 2435 ASSESSMENTS:  This legislation, creating a domestic abuse lethality screening assessment, will come up again in a future general assembly.  Lethality screening assessments are popular with legislatures throughout the United States.  JRC is leery of this legislation because it may run afoul of Iowa’s Constitution, Article 1, Section 17[2], which prohibits excessive bail.  HF 2435 passed the House 98-0video.  The Senate Judiciary Committee did not take it up for consideration after a subcommittee had recommended it for passage with an amendment.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#7.  SF 2375CRIMINAL JUSTICEThis bill eliminates the statute of limitations for prosecution of most sex offenses.  Currently, there is a 10-year window after a victim turns 18 years-old to prosecute a perpetrator for a sex crime against the victim.  This bill eliminates any period of time between the sex crime and the ability of the state to bring charges.  The bill passed the Senate unanimously, 50-0.  video It was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, but was never considered.  JRC OPPOSED this bill. A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √. 

#8.  HSB 569 & SSB 3134DEATH PENALTY: Both of these bills were intended to reinstate capital punishment in Iowa.  Each bill had its own characteristics.  The House bill, HSB 569, would have allowed the death penalty in almost every 1st degree murder.  It failed to pass out of a House Public Safety subcommittee at the end of a dramatic meeting with heavy emotion and an overflowing room of supporters and opponents.  Rep. Greg Heartsill (R-Chariton) was the lone vote in favor of moving the bill to the full committee.  Reps. Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines) and Steven Holt (R-Denison) voted “No” on the bill’s advancement.  The Senate bill, SSB 3134 did pass out of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee with a split vote along party lines (Those voting for passage included: Sens. Julian Garrett (R-Indianola); Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig); and Dan Dawson (R-Council Bluffs).  Those voting against the bill were Sens. Rich Taylor (D-Mt. Pleasant) and Tony Bisignano (D-Des Moines).  However, Senator Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale) declared shortly after the bill was recommended by the subcommittee that it was not going to be brought up before the full Senate Judiciary Committee, thereby killing the bill for the 2018 session.  JRC was a major player in the massive and coordinated effort to thwart the attempts in both chambers.  JRC STRONGLY OPPOSED both bills.  There is no vote display on these bills.

 #9.  SF 2382CRIMINAL JUSTICE:  Senator Dan Dawson (R-Council Bluffs), an officer with the Iowa Department of Public Safety (Narcotics), has made this legislation a priority of his.  The crime bill has sixty-one sections.  It covers so many different issues it could be considered to be logrolling, which is unconstitutional.

The constitutional problem is with the title of the bill.  Article III, Section 29 of the Iowa Constitution says:

Every act shall embrace but one subject, and matters properly connected therewith; which subject shall be expressed in the title. But if any subject shall be embraced in an act which shall not be expressed in the title, such act shall be void only as to so much thereof as shall not be expressed in the title.

The title of the bill relates to the “criminal code”, but it covers so much more.  The bill addresses subjects such as the “medical examiner” and “drivers’ licenses”.

Another serious problem with the legislation is a segment of the bill in which convictions in another state may be “counted as previous offenses” for the purpose of enhancing penalties.  This provision may violate the Iowa Supreme Court’s opinion in State v. Young, 863 N.W.2d 249 (2015) (concluding that under the right to counsel provision of article I, section 10 of the Iowa Constitution, a misdemeanor defendant has a right to the assistance of counsel when the defendant faces the possibility of imprisonment.) The problem arises when two persons have similar circumstances in Iowa, but have not had similar circumstances in others states.  An individual who has been convicted of a simple misdemeanor in another state, and has been afforded the right to counsel is going to be charged with a subsequent offense, enhancing the penalty.  However, an individual who was convicted in another state of the same simple misdemeanor, but has not been afforded the right to an attorney at the time, will have a legitimate right to invoke the holding in YoungThe two individuals will not be treated identically, raising the issue of equal protection under the Iowa Constitution’s Article I, Section 6 – Laws Uniform[3].

There are many other problems with the bill.  Section 41 of the bill takes away the right to appeal, even in felony cases if the person pled guilty. If a person appeals after a guilty plea there are many reasons why the person might appeal. They might appeal the sentence or may believe their lawyer was ineffective enough to have another court to review their case.  Section 43 eliminates the ability to raise a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal. Section 44 pertains to verdicts being challenged on direct appeal. This provision would change the way courts look at evidence in deciding cases.

SF 2382 passed the Senate 47-2 video and was sent to the House.  Rep. Chip Baltimore (R-Boone) drastically amended the bill coming out of a subcommittee, and the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill along with the amendment on to the floor of the House.  Several other amendments were offered by Rep. Baltimore in the closing days of the session in order to strike a compromise, but it appears as though none of the proposed amendments were acceptable.  Sen. Dawson’s most important section in this bill is the provision creating definitions of “simulated firearms” and “simulated explosives” and their nexus to first degree robbery.  JRC STRONGLY OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#10SF 2365 NEW CRIMES:  This bill creates the crime of interference with a service dog/animal (simple misdemeanor), defines service dog/animal, and establishes housing restrictions for service animals.  SF 2365 passed the Senate 49-0video.  The bill had moved out of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and was placed on the House Debate Calendar, but it was never considered in the final days of the session.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#11SF 2371 ENHANCED PENALTIES:  SF 2371 enhances the criminal penalties for individuals engaged in human trafficking of victims who are under the age of 18 from a class “C” felony to a class “B” felony.  This bill passed the Senate 49-0video.  A House Judiciary subcommittee recommended passage but the Committee did not take it up for consideration.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

 #12.  HJR 2010 & SJR 2010 – CRIMINAL LAWThese two resolutions would amend the Iowa Constitution to implement what is known as Marsy’s Law, an attempt to incorporate victims’ rights into the Constitution.  JRC OPPOSED these two identical measures.  JRC printed the position of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence in a 2018 Newsletter, Vol. 9, No.5.  It’s the best reasoning against this effort:

 Invest in comprehensive victim rights and potections for victims of violent crimes – ICADV is unwavering in our support for all victims. We oppose Iowa’s Marsy’s Law (SSB 3040; HJR 2003) because experience tells us there are much more effective ways to support victims. Amending the constitution is a symbolic gesture that won’t make the criminal justice system any friendlier to victims. Establishing rights without legitimate remedy gives false hope to victims and diverts resources away from systems and services that can meet the comprehensive needs of Iowa victims. We believe this bill negatively impacts services and support for all victims, including the vast majority who will never set foot in a courtroom. The proposal contradicts essential principals of American justice and would upend our severely underfunded legal system to the detriment of victims. Iowa law already includes comprehensive victim rights and protections [Iowa Code Chapter 915]. Before amending the constitution, we should ensure we have adequately supported the systems and services that enable victims to access and benefit from statutory protections. The insensitivity and indifference experienced by many victims is not a constitutional failing. It is a failing of common decency by people, society and social systems themselves. Click here to read our full statement on Iowa’s Marsy’s Law. Click here to read our Victim Service Providers concerns of Marsy’s Law.

 HJR 2010 and SJR 2010 were not brought up for a vote this session, but we expect they will be re-introduced in the 2019 session.

#13HF 2401 SEX OFFENDERS:  The Attorney General’s Office claimed this law was a technical cleanup bill.  The original bill, House Study Bill 641, looks nothing like its offspring, HF 2401.  The original bill was requested by the Iowa Dept. of Human Services.  The AG apparently hijacked it on its way out of committee.  The AG said this bill was a response to State of Iowa v. Iowa District Court for Jones County, a case that held “a department of corrections retroactive policy change on earned-time sentence reduction was precluded by a previous Iowa Supreme Court decision and violated the Ex Post Facto Clauses of the United States and Iowa Constitutions.”  The language of the bill is questionable in whether it clarifies the problem.  The bill passed the House 96-1video.  A subcommittee in the Senate Judiciary recommended passage, but it was never considered by the full Committee.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#14.  HF 2404 RESTITUTION/VICTIMS:  An award of restitution made to the victim’s estate or heirs at law shall not be reduced by any third-party payment, including any insurance payment, unless the offender is a named or covered insured.  The bill passed both houses unanimously (House 98-0video)(Senate 48-0video) and has been signed by the governor.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#15.  SF 2343 CRIMINAL LAWSupposedly, there are many incidents of people in the Davenport area attempting to outrun police vehicles, and this is the solution – forfeiture of the person’s motor vehicle, but only if the person who attempted to elude the police is the registered owner of the vehicle.  Constitutional issues of Equal Protection and Due Process are very evident in this measure.  The bill passed the Senate 41-9video and was not considered in the House.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

 #16SF 2282 JUDICIAL BRANCHIt’s amazing that this bill could have passed out of the Senate, much less out of a Judiciary Committee, but it did.  It supposedly instructs the Iowa Supreme Court that it cannot strike down a statute as unconstitutional unless a supermajority (5-2) of justices declare it to be unconstitutional.  It passed the Senate 26-24video.  It was dead on arrival in the House.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#17.  SF 2235 NEW CRIMES:  This unnecessary and redundant legislation requested by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security creates the new crime of Critical Infrastructure Sabotage and carries some hefty penalties – a class “B” felony and a fine of $85,000 to 100,000 for “critical infrastructure sabotage”.  “Critical infrastructure sabotage” means any unauthorized act that is intended to cause a substantial interruption or impairment of service rendered to the public relating to critical infrastructure property. JRC has expressed concerns that the fine could be considered an “excessive fine” in certain circumstances and could violate the Eighth Amendment.  JRC believes the language is too broad in that it does not make exceptions for a labor strike; a possible protest protected by the First Amendment; an incident in which someone runs into an electric pole that knocks out power for a large portion of a city; and several other unforeseen circumstances.  It passed the House 69-31video, and passed the Senate for the final time 35-13video.  Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#18.  SF 2230 ENHANCED PENALTIES:  This legislation is a priority bill of the Iowa County Attorneys Association (ICAA).  Rep. Mary Wolfe (D-Clinton) brought this to our attention in a Tweet.  Rep. Wolfe and Rep. Rick Olson (D-Des Moines) attempted to fix this bill on the House floor during debate, but it appears as though no one was listening.  The bill contains a serious flaw that will allow a kidnapper to elude conviction on the basis of being a parent.  Fawkes-Lee & Ryan, on behalf of Justice Reform Consortium (JRC) requested a veto on this bill.  SF 2230 passed the Senate 50-0video and passed the House 82-16video.  Despite our veto request, Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law within a few days of receiving it, even though the rush was not necessary.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#19.  SF 2197 ENHANCED PENALTIESThis bill provides enhanced criminal penalties for motor vehicle theft when the vehicle is subsequently used in the commission of a felony.  It passed the Senate 37-13video.  It was referred to the House Committee on Judiciary where it was assigned to a subcommittee and failed to move beyond the subcommittee.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#20.  HF 2238 VICTIMS/RESTITUTION:  An insurer may be a victim for purposes of Chapter 910 (Restitution) if insurance fraud in violation of section 507E.3 or 507E.3A has been perpetrated against the insurer.  The bill passed both chambers unanimously (House 98-0video; Senate 48-0video) and has been signed into law by the governor.  JRC OPPOSED this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.

#21.  HF 2193CRIMINAL JUSTICEThis bill would allow an out-of-state company to set up a system of texting people who have court dates, fees due, etc.  The fee for this service (an additional 6%) would be in addition to fines, surcharges, etc.  HF 2193 passed the House 98-0video  The Senate did not consider this bill.  A “NAY” vote is a vote with the JRC position and is displayed as √.  #22.  SF 415OTHER ISSUES:  This legislation is often known as the “Good Samaritan” bill.  It provides immunity from prosecution when a person contacts authorities (most often law enforcement, but may also include school administrators and medical personnel) to seek emergency assistance to a friend who has overdosed on alcohol.  The intent is to encourage underage persons to report medical emergencies involving alcohol rather than attempting to avoid charges associated with doing the right thing.  Unfortunately, the bill was meant only for alcohol overdoes and not drugs, too.  The bill passed the Senate 49-0 last year.  The House Judiciary Committee considered the bill this year and recommended an amendment (weakening the immunity) and passage.  However, House leadership did not take the bill up for consideration.  Although JRC SUPPORTED this bill, a record of the vote is not appropriate for this year’s analysis because the only vote took place last year. The following bills were passed by both chambers and signed by the governor.  JRC took no position for or against any of the following:

Senate File 2241 Enrolled Senate File 2241 AN ACT RELATING TO THE COMMISSION OF A PAROLE VIOLATION OR A CRIMINAL OFFENSE WHILE ON PAROLE. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA:

A Board of Parole bill, it changes language in Chapter 908 (Violations of parole or probation), removing references to other states and foreign governments, and repeals Code section 908.7, which allows an alleged parole violator to waive the parole revocation hearing. It passed both houses unanimously and has been signed by the governor.

House File 2255 Enrolled House File 2255 AN ACT RELATING TO THE POSSESSION OF CONTRABAND IN OR ON THE GROUNDS OF A COMMUNITY-BASED CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, AND PROVIDING PENALTIES.

Currently, it is unlawful to possess “while confined in a secure facility for the detention or custody of juveniles, detention facility, jail, correctional institution, or institution under the management of the department of corrections, or while being transported or moved incidental to confinement.”  For some reason, that language does include a “community-based correctional facility”.  Notice that the person must be “confined”.  The bill passed both chambers unanimously and has been signed by the governor.

House File 2392 Enrolled House File 2392 AN ACT RELATING TO ELECTRONIC AND MECHANICAL EAVESDROPPING, AND THE INTERCEPTION OF COMMUNICATIONS. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA:

The bill creates a third exception to illegal electronic and mechanical eavesdropping by permitting the use of a monitoring device. The bill defines “monitoring device” to mean a digital video or audio streaming or recording device that records, listens to, or otherwise intercepts video or audio communications placed outside of a person’s dwelling or other structure that is not in a shared hallway and is on real property owned or leased by the person.  The bill passed the House unanimously.  Senator Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines) was the lone “nay” vote in the Senate.  Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law.

The vote counts may be found online at:  Senate Votes, and House Votes.

 

[1] As delighted as JRC is in the line-item veto, we believe the governor extended her constitutional authority by changing the language [law), not just striking the language.  When the governor states that “I am instructing the agencies of the executive branch to continue their participation in this pilot program until December 31, 2018”, she is amending the effective date of a portion of an act approved by the Legislature, violating the separation of powers.  Article III, Section 15 states: “The governor may approve appropriation bills in whole or in part, and may disapprove any item of an appropriation bill; and the part approved shall become a law.”  It does not allow the governor to amend a law, only to “disapprove any item”.

[2] Bail — punishments. SEC. 17. Excessive bail shall not be required; excessive fines shall not be imposed, and cruel and unusual punishment shall not be inflicted.

[3] Laws uniform. SEC. 6. All laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation; the general assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens.

JRC Newsletter April 11, 2016

Vol. 7 #7 April 11, 2016

Re-sentencing Of Damon Calaway

The re-sentencing of Damon Calaway was held on Thursday, March 24, 2016 with Judge Jeanie Kunkle Vaudt presiding.  Daniel Voogt was the lawyer for the state and Erin Carr was the lawyer for Mr. Calaway. Calaway’s lawyer was not allowed to see him before the trial.  There were about 15 supporters of Mr. Calaway present.  One of the judge’s staff asked if the lawyers needed to speak to the judge in her chambers before the hearing began.

Apparently Mr. Calaway’s lawyer had requested that Mr. Calaway be allowed to retain an “expert witness” at the state’s expense.  This witness would be from a group of advocates that would gather information about the client as outlined in the Miller decision.  This was denied.    A packet containing letters of support and an e-mail from a counselor stating that he has reached the highest level was submitted.

The judge asked the lawyers to tell her what they felt she needed to do regarding the options. Mr. Carr spoke of Mr. Callaway’s childhood stating he had no role models; no one there to say what is right or wrong.  He got involved with gangs.  In prison he acted out in early years, but had no major reports since 2008.  He has been a leader in groups and has done volunteer work.  He is not the rare case that deserves Life without Parole.  He was recommending 50 years with parole and 25 years with parole running concurrently.

The lawyer for the state recommended LWOP.  He feels the decision of the jury can’t be disregarded.  This was a crime committed by a gang, but Mr. Calaway pulled the trigger.  “I don’t know what more rare and uncommon case would be found.”

Mr. Calaway was asked if he would like to make a statement. “I ask for forgiveness from everyone here who loves me, as they are serving life with me.”   He asked for forgiveness from the victims.  He asked for opportunity based, not on innocence or guilt, but on whether he has changed.  “I am not the boy who went to prison, prison saved my life.  I made the worst decision of my life.  I am not a violent person.”

The judge stated she would give her decision on Monday at 4:00 pm.  We all assembled on Monday at 4:00 pm and then were told that the court room was in use and to come back on Tuesday at 8:30 am.  On Tuesday, the judge re- sentenced Damon to “Life Without Parole.”  He has 30 days to appeal.  Needless to say, this was very hard for the family and friends to hear.

Jean Basinger, IC4JJ Focus Group

Board of Corrections Meeting

The Iowa Board of Corrections met in Davenport at the 7th Judicial District Department of Correctional Services on April Fool’s Day, April 1, at 9:00 am.  Everyone was welcomed by Waylyn McCullough, the district director, who mentioned that the 7th District is the smallest of the eight Community-Based Corrections in Iowa, and it is the only one without a prison.

Several things occurred at this meeting that might be considered odd to the frequent BOC attendee.  Oddity #1:  For the second meeting in a row, only four directors attended.

Oddity #2:  Department of Corrections Director Jerry Bartruff opened his remarks by informing those in attendance that the two fugitives from Newton had been apprehended.  However, he failed to mention that the state is appealing a district court ruling in Polk County in which Judge Scott Rosenberg ruled that “Iowa inmates have a right to a lawyer when fighting Department of Corrections (sic) decisions that can add time to their sentences.”  The district court decision was delivered in plenty of time for the Department to report its findings to the Board.  It is odd that this information was not shared with the Board.

Oddity #3:  The only handouts were the agenda and minutes from the previous meeting.

Oddity #4:  The entire meeting lasted fewer than 50 minutes.

Oddity #5:  Assistant Professor Steve Kalber, a psychiatric nurse and 9th year clinical professor at Saint Ambrose University in Davenport, presented a program that is a collaborative effort between St. Ambrose and the 7th Judicial District CBC.  Called “Health Coaching”, nursing students come into the District Offices on Main Street and meet with offenders.  The students discuss items such as physical health, mood, relationships, work, and short term goals with offenders.  The program itself is not odd at all, but Professor Kalber said that “knowledge doesn’t change behavior”.  That quote seems to contradict the DOC programs that rely heavily upon cognitive behavioral treatment, which are based on using knowledge to change adverse thinking and behavior.

Oddity #6:  Professor Kalber admitted that a few offenders just sit there with their arms folded and refuse to participate.  After the presentation, Board member Larry Kudje asked about confidentiality.  It was disclosed that offenders are told before meeting with a student that “interactions will be shared with probations officers”.  Perhaps that isn’t odd after all.

What wasn’t odd about the meeting was the appointment and approval of Kris Weitzell as the new warden at the Newton Correctional Facility.  Come to think of it, it was strange that Ms. Weitzell was approved without discussion by the Board.  But to his credit, Director Bartruff gave a lengthy introduction filled with praise and respect for Weitzell.  It left the Board with little room for discussion or further questions.

The next Board meeting will take place at the Anamosa State Penitentiary at 406 North High Street in Anamosa at 9:00 am on May 6th.

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:

HF 2399 – This bill enhances penalties and creates an unfair process for determining who will be sentenced to a term of incarceration and who will receive a sentence of probation.  A risk assessment is required to be performed on a defendant prior to sentencing.  We have always maintained that risk assessments are appropriate for the Parole Board, but their use as a sentencing factor is constitutionally questionable.   The bill allows the court to order electronic monitoring, so long as the defendant pays for the costs associated with the monitoring, installation, etc.  Electronic monitoring will allow authorities to determine where the abuser may be, but it will not provide information “to authorities” as to whether the victim is in the near vicinity.  Moreover, a Fiscal Note of March 7 states:

Minority Impact

One-third of Domestic Abuse-3rd convictions in FY 2015 were committed by African Americans. In year four of this bill’s effect, it is estimated that 71 additional inmates will be serving sentences. Of these 71, 23 (32.2%) are estimated to be African American. This will lead to a disproportionate minority impact, as African Americans currently make up 3.4% of Iowa’s population.

When a fiscal note shows the projections for potentially incarcerating a disproportionate number of minorities as high as this one, we question what alternatives have been initiated to reduce incidents of domestic abuse before attempting to enhance penalties.  Unfortunately, the legislative process becomes the first thought of change in too many cases.  It should be the ultimate last.  This is the second time this year a bill has had the momentum to become law with a heavy projection of increasing the disproportionate representation of African-Americans in prisons and jails in Iowa.  SF 2115 was signed into law by the governor earlier this month.  JRC “OPPOSES” this bill, as does the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence [ICADV] and the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault [CASA].  HF 2399 passed the House 86-12 on March 8.  It was amended by the Senate and passed 50-0 on April 6.  Please contact your representative and urge a “No” vote 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 2333 passed the House 96-0 on March 2.  It has been placed on the Senate’s Unfinished Business Calendar

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

SF2116 – This is a synthetic drugs bill.  JRC has been “UNDECIDED” on this bill.  SF 2116 passed the Senate on Feb. 22 by a vote of 49-0.  It passed the House 97-0 on March 30.  It awaits the governor’s signature.

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. It was amended and passed the House 98-0 on March 29.  The amendment enhanced the penalty for “invasion of privacy” from a serious misdemeanor to an aggravated misdemeanor.  The Senate concurred with the House amendment and passed the bill for the second time by a vote of 50-0 on April 6.  It awaits the governor’s signature.

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 was sent back to the Senate for its approval on the new language.  The Senate concurred in the House language and passed it for the final time 49-1 on April 6.  It now goes to the governor for his approval.

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

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 and $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. Governor Branstad signed the bill on March 30.

SF 2059 – This is the Department of Corrections’ bill for 2015.  JRC is “UNDECIDED” on this bill.  We should be opposed because a “Violators’ Program” is required by law and this bill changes the mandate to a suggestion.  SF 2059 passed the Senate 48-0 on Feb. 22.  It passed the House 95-0 on March 17.  It was signed by the governor on April 6.

SF 2115 – The legislation adds “jailers” to the list of professions that may be the subject of a charge of “interference with official acts”.  We “OPPOSED” 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. It passed the House 86-10 on March 15.  We requested a veto from the governor on March 21st.  The governor signed the bill into law on March 30.  There was no fiscal note for this year, but a previous year’s fiscal note 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.

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. The bill passed the House 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 was sent back to 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 House concurred in the Senate amendment and passed it 94-2 on March 28.  The governor signed it into law on April 6.

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.

Selected links:

Federal Housing Officials Warn Against Blanket Bans of Ex-Offenders http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/04/nyregion/federal-housing-officials-warn-against-blanket-bans-of-ex-offenders.html?partner=rss&emc=rss By MIREYA NAVARRO The New York Times, APRIL 4, 2016.

$12M sought for wrongful jailing $12M sought for wrongful jailing on Page A1 of Friday, April 08, 2016 issue of Star Tribune

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.

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

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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: ___________________________________________________________

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UPCOMING EVENTS

Voices to be Heard is a support group for families and children of an incarcerated loved one. The group gathers to support and comfort those who know too well the grief that comes to those left behind when someone they love is incarcerated. The group meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 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.

 

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.

 

February Newsletter

Vol. 5 #2 February 2, 2014

Electronic Recording of Custodial Interviews

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

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

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

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

DOC January Board Meeting

Reported by Jean Basinger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS PREA UNIT

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

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

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

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

 

TOLEDO JUVENILE HOME CLOSURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read the Task Force Findings & Recommendations.

 

 

 

Selected links:

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

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

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

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

We are grateful for your generous contributions. Thanks!

 

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

Here is my contribution of $________________________________

Submit your subscription payment to:

Jean Basinger

Justice Reform Consortium

c/o Trinity United Methodist Church

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Des Moines, IA 50311

 

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UPCOMING EVENTS

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

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

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

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

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

 

The next Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners meeting is at noon on Tues., February 18th at Wesley United Methodist Church, 800 East 12th.

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

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

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

Bring your lunch. The place and time are consistent throughout the year. The meetings are always held on the third Tuesday of the month, and always held from noon to 1:00 pm at Wesley United Methodist Church located at 800 East 12th Street in Des Moines. The location is a block west of East High School. Please contact Vi for more information.

 

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

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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