Weeks of nationwide and global demonstrations after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have had their effect, according to a new AP-NORC poll. The vast majority of Americans now see the need for criminal justice reform. And, a large majority (69%) now says that the system needs either a complete overhaul or major changes.
Is assessing fines and fees an effective way to administrate justice? Does doing so result in less crime? Lower recidivism rates? Or does it come down unfairly on the poor? Should communities pay for part of their court administration costs with fines and fees? What does it mean when our justice system is partially a collection agency?
How much has the mass incarceration trend affected Iowa? More than you might think.
The American Bar Association's (ABA's) House of Delegates and the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (NACDL) have just passed a unanimous resolution urging Congress to fully fund the federal First Step Act and to make it retroactive.
The idea of parole and probation was to reduce the number of people in prison, but states are spending millions on incarcerating people for technical violations of their supervision agreements. In Iowa, for example, 40% of the prison population is made up of parole and probation violators. And, 56% of all new prison admissions are for supervision violations -- 22% of them technical violations.
In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed in Reed v. Town of Gilbert that content-based regulations on free speech are unconstitutional. This has been widely applied to panhandling ordinances. Indeed, according to the ACLU of Iowa, every case since brought against a panhandling ordinance -- over 25 cases -- have resulted in a ruling that the ordinance was unconstitutional.