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