JRC Newsleetter, February 4, 2018

Death and Taxes

Ben Franklin is attributed with the quote, “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.  That’s certainly the theme of this Iowa Legislative Session.

Justice Reform Consortium is not involved in tax legislation; it’s far from our mission. Tax bills will be emerging from House and Senate Ways and Means Committees within the next few months, and almost everyone at the Capitol will be looking over those bills with a microscope – but not JRC.  Death, on the other hand, has become our business even before the gavel fell to mark the beginning of the 2nd session of Iowa’s Eighty-Seventh General Assembly.

Along with Iowans Against the Death Penalty, the Iowa Catholic Conference, the ACLU of Iowa, the Iowa Attorney General, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, and many other organizations and individuals, JRC has been working for over a year to obtain enough votes to defeat each and every measure introduced so far.

There are five bills in the Iowa General Assembly that would, if enacted, reinstate the death penalty in Iowa after a hiatus of over 50 years.  Senate File 355 and Senate File 336 were introduced last year, and for all practical purposes are technically still alive for this year.  House Study Bill 569 received a subcommittee hearing on Thursday, Feb. 1st; and even though the subcommittee recommended passage (Reps. Steven Holt (R-Denison) & Greg Heartsill (R-Melcher-Dallas) voting to advance; Rep. Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines voting no), the bill is not expected to pass out of the House Public Safety Committee and is most likely dead for the year (no pun intended).

Senate Study Bill 3042 was introduced earlier this year in the Iowa Senate.  The bill would create the offense of capital murder in instances in which a law enforcement officer was murdered.  The chances of passing this bill became slim when two of the three members assigned to the subcommittee were anti-death penalty legislators.

Senate Study Bill 3134 is the most recent bill to be introduced.  Again, this bill has been introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The subcommittee of Senators Julian Garrett (R-Indianola), Chair; Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig); Dan Dawson (R-Council Bluffs); Rich Taylor (D-Mt. Pleasant); and Tony Bisignano (D-Des Moines) have less than two weeks to move the bill out of subcommittee, and the Senate Judiciary Committee must approve it prior to February 15th (First Funnel Deadline) in order for the bill to be debated by the full Senate.  Keep in mind that, even though a bill may no longer be eligible for debate, an issue can live on forever through the process of amendments or leadership bills.Below are YouTube links to the 50-minutes hearing in the House on House Study Bill 569 on Thursday, Feb. 1.  Iowans Against Death Penalty is expected to post all written testimony collected that day.  Not everyone was provided a chance to speak. We will have that link as soon as it is available.


HSB 569, Part 1

HSB 569, Part 2

HSB 569, Part 3

HSB 569, Part 4


Life after Prison:  A New Guide for Iowans

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

Selected links:

 https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/308092 How to Employ the Formerly Incarcerated to Help Grow Your Business. Entrepreneur Magazine. Carol Roth   JANUARY 29, 2018.

https://thecrimereport.org/2018/01/25/how-pseudo-science-turns-sex-offenders-into-permanent-outlaws/ How ‘Pseudoscience’ Turns Sex Offenders into Permanent Outlaws. The Crime Report. Appellate Squawk,  JANUARY 25, 2018.

http://www.iowarelatedissues.com/ Iowa Prison Data, John Neff, Iowa City.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-florida-election/floridas-ban-on-felons-voting-ruled-unconstitutional-by-judge-idUSKBN1FM09L?utm_campaign=trueAnthem%3A+Trending+Content&utm_content=5a73fae004d30168f72b3f1d&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=facebook Florida’s Ban on Felons Voting Ruled Unconstitutional by Judge.  ReutersDan Whitcomb. FEBRUARY 1, 2018.


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.

House Study Bill 569 is “virtually” dead.  It doesn’t look as though it will pass the full House Public Safety Committee.  However, there remains four bills in the Senate, one of which could move quickly at any time.



 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.


The next Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners meeting is at noon on Tues., February 20th 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.


PO Box 71272, Clive, IA  50325

email:  fiwp2011@gmail.com

website:  friendsofiowawomenprisoners.org

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 Kirk 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 Wesley United Methodist Church (800 East 12th St. in Des Moines) from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.  Potluck begins at 5:30 p.m. meeting begins at 6:00 p.m.  The group brings in speakers, performs outreach, provide support groups and leadership classes.  It is a good idea to contact Melissa Gradischnig ahead of time because a head count is preferred for the pot luck.  Contact Melissa at 515/229-2645 for more information.

Voices to be Heard also meets in Cedar Rapids:

Voices to be Heard, Cedar Rapids

2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month

6 to 7pm

Lundby Townhomes, 845 31st Av. SW.

Contact, Melissa 515-229-2645

April 19, 2015 Newsletter

Vol. 6 #8 April 19, 2015


Time is running out to register for




 It isn’t Sex: It’s Survival

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

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

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

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

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

 Quote of the century

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

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

Pioneer Lawmakers

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

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

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

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


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


What’s Alive; What’s Dead

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

Senate Fill 448 AGAINST

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

House File 567 AGAINST

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

Senate File 385 FOR

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

Senate File 292 FOR

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

House File 258 Undecided, but . . .

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

Selected links:

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

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8:30 AM until 4:00 PM





8:30 AM          Sign in and coffee

9:00 AM          Keynote Address – Mr. David Liners

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

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

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

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

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

4:00 PM          Conference ends

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Justice Reform Consortium of Iowa

Interfaith Alliance of Iowa

Iowa Unitarian Universalist Witness and Advocacy Network

Waterloo Commission on Human Rights

Registration Form

Name ________________________________

Address _________________________


E-mail ___________________________

Phone ___________________________

Do you represent an organization? ________________________________

Registration Fee

$25 if submitted after April 15, 2015


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

Checks payable to: Waterloo Commission on Human Rights

Mail registration to:

Waterloo Commission on Human Rights,

620 Mulberry St.

Waterloo, IA 50703.


For further information contact:



Voices to be Heard is a support group for families and children of an incarcerated loved one. The group gathers to support and comfort those who know too well the grief that comes to those left behind when someone they love is incarcerated. The group meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at Wesley United Methodist Church (800 East 12th St. in Des Moines) from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. The group brings in speakers, performs outreach, provide support groups and leadership classes. It is a good idea to contact Melissa ahead of time because the group provides dinner and a head count is preferred. Contact Melissa at 515/229-2645 for more information.

The next Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners meeting is at noon on Tues., April 21st at Wesley United Methodist Church, 800 East 12th.

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

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



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

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

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

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

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


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

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