Branstad launches ‘work group’ to focus on justice reforms

Branstad 1From Press Release


Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad announced Friday the formation of the Governor’s Working Group on Justice Policy Reform at the Iowa Summit on Justice and Disparities. The summit was organized by the Iowa-Nebraska State Conference of Branches for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People being held Friday at the FFA Enrichment Center at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny.

The purpose of the working group is to research and make policy recommendations related to reforms in Iowa criminal justice practices. The group will consist of a core group of experts on justice polices, and have the access to all state agencies and resources for information and assistance. The working group will allow for public input.

“Over the past few years, I have been pleased to have regularly-scheduled meetings with the Iowa-Nebraska State Conference of Branches for the NAACP, where we have the opportunity to visit about challenges in Iowa’s justice and corrections systems and how we can work together to improve any potential disparities,” said Branstad. “These conversations have been substantive, informative and productive. Already, Iowa is decreasing prison population while simultaneously reducing the recidivism rate. I recognize that there is an opportunity to make even more improvements. I look forward to learning what recommendations the working group presents and will carefully review how the state might implement them moving forward.”

The working group will be charged with developing a strategy to better modernize and increase equity in Iowa’s criminal justice policies. The governor will ask the working group to focus its work on the following specific policy areas and how to improve them — mental health and drug court diversion programs, jury pool selection, juvenile criminal record confidentiality and state prison and county jail phone call fees.

The working group will consist of the following individuals/representatives:

  1. Representative from the Iowa Attorney General’s Office
  2. A State Court Administrator
  3. State Public Defender
  4. Commissioner of Iowa Department of Public Safety
  5. Representative from the NAACP
  6. County Attorney Representation
  7. Representative from the Iowa Department of Corrections
  8. Representative from the Iowa Parole Board

The Governor’s Working Group on Justice Policy Reform will present a written report to the governor, stakeholders, and the public no later than Nov. 1 so that the Iowa Legislature can consider these recommendations in the 2016 legislative session.