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Justice Reform Consortium

Legislative Agenda 2016*

ENHANCED PENALTIES AND NEW CRIMES: Prevent the passage of bills that enhance current criminal penalties and create new crimes without some sort of empirical evidence to demonstrate that the enhancement or creation of the law is the only alternative to addressing a criminal matter, and that all alternatives have been exhausted.

VIDEO RECORDING OF CUSTODIAL INTERVIEWS:  In a 2006 opinion, State v. Hajtic, Iowa Supreme Court warned: "We believe electronic recording, particularly videotaping of custodial interrogations should be encouraged and we take this opportunity to do so."  Ten years later, there is no excuse for law enforcement officers to NOT record custodial interviews.

BAN THE BOX: We support legislation that will eliminate the box on employment applications asking if the job applicant has ever: 1) been convicted of a crime, 2) been arrested:  3) any reference to the criminal justice system.  These questions should be asked only if there is a nexus between the job and the criminal act and only after a bona fide offer of employment has been make contingent upon a background check.

VOTING RIGHTS FOR EX-FELONS:  It's time to bring Iowa into the 21st century and allow those convicts of "infamous crimes" to become a part of the community.  No one should be denied the fundamental right to vote.  

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT BY A CORRECTIONAL OFFICER OR OTHERS: The punishment for sexual misconduct committed by employees and agents of the department of corrections and judicial district departments of correctional services should be consistent with similar crimes.  Currently, the penalty for a conviction of this offense is an aggravated misdemeanor, while sexual abuse in the 3re degree, which involves similar circumstances, is a class "C" felony.

MANDATORY MINIMUMS:  The Iowa Public Safety Advisory Board of the Criminal and Juvenile Planning Commission has looked at proposing legislation that would eliminate mandatory minimums on certain drug offenses only.  We say, "It's a start, but let's go further!"

FUNDING FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROGRAMS:  This is not a primary issue for JRC because the issue is more complicated than it appears.  JRC will support an increase in funding if the programs demonstrate long term success.

SUPREME COURT'S TRANSLATOR/INTERPRETERS BILL:  This is a hold over from three previous sessions and may not move, but we will be ready to help the courts if interest rises in the House.

DRUG PENALTIES:  The disparity between crack and powder cocaine, the continual addition of new substances to the list of schedules and the enhancement of penalties or decease in thresholds of current law are all part of a broken system of the War on Drugs that must come to a sensible conclusion.  JRC should monitor any movement to tinker with Chapter 124.


For additional information or clarification please contact the Legislative Advocate for the Justice Reform Consortium:  Marty Ryan of Fawkes-Lee & Ryan: marty@iowappa.com, cell #: 515-681-8076


Justice Reform Consortium member organizations:  Friends of Iowa Women Prisoners; Iowa CURE(Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants); American Friends Service Committee, Iowa Division; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Des Moines Chapter; National Organization for Women, Iowa Chapter; National Organization for Women, Des Moines Chapter; Beacon of Life; Iowa Annual Conference, United Methodist Church; National Association of Social Workers, Iowa Chapter; Trinity United Methodist Church, Des Moines; ACLU of Iowa; Methodist Federation for Social Action; Iowa Coalition 4 Juvenile Justice; Social Action Committee, Des Moines Presbytery; Voices to Be Heard; Plymouth Congregational Church, Board of Christian Social Action;

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