Total Correctional Population: 46,700
Number on Parole or Probation: 35,100
Number in Local Jail or Prison: 13,400
Incarceration Rate per 100,000 residents: 430
Incarceration Rate Rank: 37th
Corrections Share of 2018 General Fund Expenditures: 5.2%
“Correctional Populations in the United States, 2016,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
"2018 State Expenditure Report," National Association of State Budget Officers
recently enacted reforms
House File 650: Provides a limited liability shield for employers that hire those with a criminal record.
House File 579: Eliminates mandatory minimum sentence for Class C drug felonies; allows judge to utilize discretion in certain mandatory minimum cases; eliminates the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity.
Senate File 446: Increases the state’s burden of proof for a forfeiture; requires law enforcement to follow record keeping for forfeitures; prohibits forfeiture for property valued at less than a minimum amount.
House File 2064: Allows certain inmates to become eligible for parole or workplace release after he or she has served half of their prison sentence.
Senate File 2288: Requires juvenile records to be confidential and not public records.
June 7, 2019
“Barriers to communication from high inmate calling rates interfere with inmates’ ability to consult with their attorneys, impede family contact that can make prisons and jails safer spaces, and foster recidivism.”
In Iowa, the average cost of a 15-minute call from prison or jail was $7.03, with some counties charging as much as $11. The state utility board, tasked with ensuring that reasonable rates are charged by state service providers, has asked the 11 companies who provide calling services for more information about their pricing. Iowa’s prices are $1.29 higher than the national average of $5.74, and are the 13th-highest in the country. Arkansas has the most expensive rates, charging an average of $14.49 for 15 minutes.
April 19, 2019
“We want to have folks that are able to come back into society and become productive family members, productive members of the community and even productive taxpayers.”
Iowa’s Newton Correctional Facility is partnering with the Iowa Association of Councils of Government and Homes for Iowa, Inc. to teach incarcerated people trade skills and create low-cost homes for rural Iowans. In the program, modeled on South Dakota’s Governor’s House Program, trainees will help construct two- to three-bedroom homes that can be shipped throughout the state. Newton Correctional Facility also offers computing skills courses and trade apprenticeships, and partners with Grinnell College on secondary education classes.
December 28, 2018
“Instead of just taking (juvenile offenders) to the jail, you take them to the center, they get an assessment and find out what that child needs…”
Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch suggested several steps to reduce youth violence and involvement in the justice system, including better information sharing, easier connections with social services, and the establishment of an assessment center for youth who have come in contact with law enforcement. The recommendations come from a community-wide study that included input from law enforcement leaders, juvenile justice experts and social service providers. “A cycle of punitive accountability without any intervention is just a cycle of incarceration, release, re-offense,” said juvenile court officer Scott Hobart. “We’ve got to intervene.”
December 7, 2018
“We need politicians more concerned about the rising taxpayer and human cost of our growing prison system than about what will be printed on direct mailers during the next election cycle; and a public that places more value on reduced crime than increased convictions.”
Two new reports from the Iowa Department of Human Rights highlight the cost of the current justice system and areas that could be ripe for reform in the coming legislative session. The Correctional Policy Project’s Prison Population Forecastpredicts a more than 20% increase in the total prison population over the next ten years, going from the current 8,447 to 10,144. The state’s prisons, already at 116% of capacity, are projected to be at 139% of capacity if no policy changes are made. In its Legislative Recommendations to the General Assembly, the state’s Public Safety Advisory Board suggested changes to mandatory minimum sentencing requirements and the implementation of a results-driven approach to corrections and juvenile justice with a consistent cost analysis formula for evaluating programs. Additional recommendations included eliminating driving sanctions for the failure to pay fines and fees. The Iowa Legislature is widely expected to tackle many of these reforms during the 2019 session.
June 29, 2018
“We believe that shedding light on state compassionate release programs is the first step to improving them.”
Families Against Mandatory Minimums released a report this week on the state of compassionate release programs across the country. They found a patchwork of policies, with incomplete, inconsistent and incoherent guidelines and rules. 25 states, including Arizona, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Tennessee, have unclear or insufficient guidance surrounding their compassionate release programs for elderly incarcerated people, and Iowa has no formal compassionate release program at all. The report includes 21 policy recommendations to expand, improve, and publicize programs.
June 15, 2018
“…The practice of suspending licenses for failing to pay traffic tickets or to appear in court traps many low-income Ohioans in the criminal justice system.”
A new report reveals 5.62% of Ohio’s nearly 8 million licensed drivers have a suspended or revoked license, the second-highest rate in the country. In addition to punishing driving infractions, the state suspends licenses for people who are unable to provide proof of insurance, or who fail to pay court fees or child support. Previous reporting by the Cleveland Plain Dealer showed that neighborhood suspension rates were directly correlated with the percentage of residents making less than 200% of the poverty level. Other states with high rates of suspended or revoked licenses include Minnesota (4.88%) and Iowa (4.79%)
December 22, 2017
“We are a nation of second chances”
President Trump issued his first sentence commutation, to an Iowa slaughterhouse executive serving 27 years for bank fraud and money laundering. This step, with bipartisan support, may further open the door to federal reform legislation, while the Nation of Second Chances project profiles some of the 1715 men and women whose petitions were granted in the last few years.
November 17, 2017
Governors gathered to talk about opportunities for reform
The Justice Action Network continued its Governors Justice Series in Austin this week, in partnership with Google, Right on Crime, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation. You can watch the full event here, or watch profiles of the speakers, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, and Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin. Governor Bevin also wrote an op-ed on the conservative approach to justice reform.