Flood Warning

How Congress’ Push For Criminal Justice Reform Would Impact Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa– Changes are coming to Iowa’s criminal justice system.

Governor Reynolds plans to spell out her proposal ahead of the new legislative session in January.

Federal lawmakers are considering their own changes and they could make to the president’s desk before the end of the year.

“I was convicted back in back in 2015 for possession with intent to deliver,” Des Moines resident Danielle Robinson said.

Robinson served the federal minimum requirement for a nonviolent drug crime which is 18 months of a 10-year sentence.

“On top of that you have to do five years of parole, so it’s a nonviolent crime,” Robinson said.

United States Senator Chuck Grassely is a sponsor of the ‘First Step Act’.

The measure aims to shorten how long people like Robinson spend behind bars.

If passed, it would shorten mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, create programs to help prisoners re-adjust to their communities, and improve conditions for women in prison.

“It’s a start, it to help other woman we are mothers we are daughters we have a family just because we made a mistake doesn’t mean we have to pay for it for the rest of our lives,” Robinson said.

According to the Iowa Department of Human Rights in 2017 more than 9,500 people in Iowa were convicted of non-violent drug crime.

Robinson says prison time doesn’t help with rehabilitation.

“When it comes to people doing drug charges it is rehab or mental health or treatments like that,” Robinson said.

Robinson hopes this measure is a step in the right direction.

Senator Grassely hopes to pass this measure before congress adjourns in December.

That could be a challenge Congress is in session just 15-days between now and the end of the year.

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