A new working group in Iowa will look for ways to reduce recidivism among former offenders and eliminate racial bias from the state’s criminal justice system.
Gov. Kim Reynolds asked the group, chaired by Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg — a former state public defender — to deliver recommendations by December, to inform several proposals she will submit to legislators when they reconvene in January.
The racial disparity in Iowa’s criminal justice system is indicated by Bureau of Justice Statistics and census data from 2017 — black Iowans are incarcerated at a rate 9.5 times higher than white Iowans, which is tied with Nebraska for the second highest rate in the Midwest. Both states trail Wisconsin (11.7), and are just ahead of Minnesota (9.2) and Illinois (8.2).
Prison overcrowding is one of the most persistent and confounding problems facing state criminal justice systems, and the issue is especially pertinent in the Midwest — home to three of the nation’s five most overcrowded prison systems. ...