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Iowa legislature passes bill today that could “reduce disproportionate incarceration of African-Americans”


This news story was published on April 27, 2016.
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Iowa capitol

Iowa capitol

DES MOINES – Today, the Iowa legislature passed a bill that one Senator says will “reduce disproportionate incarceration of African-Americans” due to nonviolent drug offenses.

Iowa Senator Rob Hogg said Wednesday that “HF2064 will reduce disproportionate incarceration of African-Americans.” The bill passed the Iowa Senate 28-19 after earlier passing in the House 98-0. It now awaits a signature from Governor Terry Branstad.

It is expected the bill as amended will reduce the disproportionate impact on minorities in the criminal justice system. As of 2014, 3.4% of Iowa’s population was African American. Approximately 11.5% of new prison admissions of drug offenders sentenced to mandatory minimum terms is African American. Of those drug offenders currently in prison serving mandatory minimum terms, 17.8% are African American. Given this, it is estimated 14.6% of the inmates released under this proposal will be African American.

The bill as amended also allows for nonviolent drug offenders (not evaluated as high-risk) to be eligible for parole after serving at least 50.0% of their mandatory minimum sentence as sentenced under Iowa Code section 124.401(1), paragraph a, b, or c. This proposal will be retroactive and impact current inmates as well as new prison admissions. It allows, but does not require, the Board of Parole (BOP) to release offenders. It does not apply to offenders assessed as high-risk to reoffend for either violence or victimization, and it will not eliminate minimum mandatory sentences.

Culturally specific intensive parole programs in Black Hawk County and Polk County have been implemented since early 2009. These programs utilize smaller groups and caseloads, and include community investment and involvement. Members from the African-American community donate their time to help provide guidance, support, encouragement, and accountability to the parolees. Recidivism rates in Waterloo and Des Moines have been reduced since these programs have been set into place.

Statewide, the recidivism rate for the African-American population was 36.0% in
FY 2000 (compared to 32.0% for the White Non-Hispanic population), and had decreased to 34.6% in FY 2009 (compared to 31.1% for the White Non-Hispanic population).

As of January 11, 2016, there were 673 drug offenders in prison serving drug mandatory minimum sentences. The majority of these sentences were mandatory minimums under Iowa Code section 124.413. Of these, 564 (83.9%) were assessed as low or medium risk for violence and other victim offenses, and could be affected by this proposal.

During FY 2015, there were 348 new prison admissions of drug offenders sentenced to serve mandatory minimum terms under Iowa Code chapter 124. Of these, 316 (90.8%) were assessed as low-risk or medium-risk for violence and other victim offenses, and could be impacted by this proposal.

There are a large number of offenders currently in prison whose expected length of stay will be reduced. The initial impact of early release will likely stabilize after three years, as the average length of parole is approximately 24 months.

jailAnother impact of the bill would be to lengthen the sentence for convictions of the rare crime of child endangerment resulting in a death. Currently, Iowa Code section 726.6(4) states that a person convicted of committing child endangerment resulting in the death of a child or minor is guilty of a Class B felony and is required to be confined for no more than 50 years in prison. Prison time is mandatory and the offender becomes automatically eligible for parole.

This bill requires that anyone convicted of child endangerment resulting in the death of a child or minor serve a minimum of 30.0% to 70.0% of a 50-year Class B felony sentence. The average length of stay for a person convicted of child endangerment resulting in the death of a child or minor under current law is 55.4 months, or 4.6 years. This bill will make the minimum length of stay 180 to 420 months, or 15 to 35 years.

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6 Responses to Iowa legislature passes bill today that could “reduce disproportionate incarceration of African-Americans”

  1. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 29, 2016 at 10:55 am

    That guy from Rockwell that has been in prison for 20 years is WHITE ! Obummer does’nt like WHITEY !

  2. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 29, 2016 at 7:59 am

    What 1 word describes these 3 – CASH CORRUPTION CROOKS ?

  3. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    April 28, 2016 at 8:26 am

    Maybe a better answer would be to stop blacks from breaking the law. They should be treated no different than anyone else.

  4. Allen

    Allen Reply Report comment

    April 27, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    How about releasing that Caucasian guy from Rockwell that’s been in prison for over twenty, that’s 20, years for selling drugs.

  5. Avatar

    watching Reply Report comment

    April 27, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    I don’t agree with making laws based on race and I do believe we should legalize drugs and collect taxes on them. This would stop some of the street crime involving the sale of drugs. We have been trying for years and spent billion of dollars with little to show for the war on drugs time to try a new approach.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      April 29, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      That is nothing but a lie. Anywhere they have legalized drugs the medical and law enforcement cost far outweigh the taxes collected. Any state that has legalized for recreational purposes wants to repeal the law. Only liars and druggies want legal drugs. Tell the truth or shut the hell up.