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Reynolds says reducing sentences for low-level crimes to be considered

DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds spoke this morning with the task force she’s assembled to come up with a series of criminal justice reforms.

The group’s first meeting comes in the same week as more than 400 inmates in Oklahoma were released after that state’s governor commuted their sentences. “I saw that and was just amazed at what was going on there,” Reynolds said Tuesday. “…We’re going to take a look at all of that.”

In 2016, Oklahoma voters approved a referendum that reduced the sentences for simple drug possession and low-level property crimes. Oklahoma’s governor signed a bill earlier this year that retroactively reduced the sentences for those already in prison for those offenses.

“There are a lot of states that are working on criminal justice reform, so let’s see what they’re doing. Let’s see what makes sense for Iowa, how we can take what they’ve done and adapt it to what we’re trying to do here for the State of Iowa,” Reynolds told reporters Tuesday, “and I’ve got a great group that have agreed to serve on this task force and I’m really looking forward to the recommendations that they make.”

Reynolds expects the group to work for a while in developing proposals to deal with racial biases in the prison system. She’s asked the group to give her a set of recommendations in December that would help inmates who are paroled transition to life and get a job outside prison.

“We just need to make sure that it’s balanced, that we never lose sight of the victims,” Reynolds said. “That’s always an important piece in this.”

As hundreds of Oklahoma inmates this past Monday, officials said one of their goals was to ensure each had a state-issued ID or driver’s license — as identification is critical for job searches and finding a place to live.


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