For Immediate Release
Contact: Rabiah Burks
FAMM Hails New Iowa Sentencing Reform Law
Governor Signs Pro-Public Safety, Pro-Taxpayer Law That Eliminates Lowest Level
Mandatory Minimum Sentences and Reduces State’s Sentencing Disparities
Des Moines, Iowa – Building upon modest reforms made during 2016, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad today signed important sentencing reform legislation into law, a step that continues modernizing Iowa’s approach to criminal justice (SF 445).
“Gov. Branstad is doing right by families and taxpayers by signing Iowa’s second sentencing reform bill in two years,” said FAMM President Kevin Ring. “Today, the Branstad-Reynolds administration helped ensure that money isn’t being wasted on locking up Iowa’s lowest level drug offenders longer than necessary. The governor is going to leave behind a state with a much fairer, smarter justice system.”
SF 445 was passed unanimously in April by both chambers of the Iowa General Assembly and eliminates the mandatory minimum sentences for the lowest level, Class C drug felonies. This reform will impact about 300 Iowans sentenced each year going forward. The bill also makes about 200 current prisoners serving Class C drug sentences eligible for parole starting July 1, 2017. Additionally, the bill allows judges to reconsider and adjust sentences for any Class C or D felony within a person’s first year in prison. Finally, the legislation lowers the state’s 10-to-1 disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences to a much fairer ratio of 2.5-to-1.
“Iowa’s crack cocaine laws were outdated and overdue for reform. There’s no good reason to treat crack and powder cocaine differently at all, but this bill is a big improvement of current law,” Ring said.
In addition to praising Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Ring noted the bill’s bipartisan support by thanking Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller for his efforts in support of the legislation. Ring also singled out a number of champions in the Iowa General Assembly who led the effort, including House Majority Whip Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant), Rep. Rick Olson (D-Des Moines), House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow (R-Windsor Heights), Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion), Senate President Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny), and Senate Judiciary Chairman Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale).
FAMM has been advocating for sentencing reform in Iowa for two years. Last year, Gov. Branstad signed HF 2064, a bill FAMM championed. Full information about FAMM’s work in Iowa is available here.
FAMM, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, promotes commonsense sentencing and prison policies that increase public safety.
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