2000 Annual Report
 


Download a pdf version of this report.

 

July 2, 2001


The Honorable Thomas Vilsack

Governor of Iowa

State Capitol

Des Moines, Iowa 50319

 

 

Dear Governor Vilsack:

 

On behalf of the members and staff of the Iowa Board of Parole, I am pleased to submit our Annual Report for State Fiscal Year 2000.

 

During FY 2000 the Board approved 1,108 work release applications and 2,824 paroles.  These figures represent a 3.8 percent increase in work releases and a nine percent drop in paroles.  FY2000 data show that the Board has worked diligently to protect the public: of the 5,493 individuals on parole caseloads during the year, only 484 (8.8 percent) were revoked, of which four (0.7 percent) were for new forcible felonies.  While 26,555 paroles have been granted since July of 1989, only 109 (0.4 percent) have resulted in revocation for new forcible felonies.

 

Consistent with its statutory obligations, the Board has continued research on recidivism during FY2000, the results of which will be presented in supplementary reports.  Most notable, we have been able to expand on the research begun last year by following former inmates for an additional year and also by examining out-of-state arrests and convictions. Among the findings of the recidivism study are that parolees have lower recidivism rates than those who expire their sentences, and that misdemeanants tend to have higher recidivism rates than felons.

 

During the past year the Board of Parole continued its efforts to use technology to assist in its efforts to protect the public and respond to the needs of victims.  With its innovative use of the Iowa Communications Network (ICN), the Board has been able to dramatically increase efficiency in considering parole while also considering the wishes of registered victims.  The ICN has been of great assistance in our effort to safely control the size of the prison population.  The ICN also allows us to conduct revocation hearings and offer public education throughout Iowa without leaving our own conference room.

 

We have also continued an experimental project in the Sixth Judicial District, using the Administrative Parole Judge to conduct probation revocation hearings, thus reducing the workload of criminal court judges and increasing consistency in revocation proceedings.  Use of this project increased dramatically this year, as hearings increased from 74 to 258.  We anticipate increased judicial efficiency as this practice continues.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Charles W. Larson

Chairperson


TABLE OF CONTENTS

I.  HIGHLIGHTS. 3

II.  MISSION STATEMENT.. 5

III.  AGENCY OVERVIEW... 6

IV.  BOARD RESPONSIBILITIES. 9

Table 1.  Performance Summary, FY99 & FY2000. 12

Table 2.  Parole and Work Release Grants, FY92-FY2000. 13

Table 3.  Decisions by Offense Class, FY2000. 14

Table 4.  Paroles and Expirations, by Offense Class and type, FY2000. 16

TABLE 5.  EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY, FY2000. 17

V.  IOWA COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK.. 18

Table 6. Mileage Saved by ICN.. 21

Table 7.  ICN Hearings, Interviews, and Costs, by Fiscal Year. 22

VI.  PRISON POPULATION.. 23

TABLE 8.  PRISON POPULATION BY OFFENSE TYPE. 23

Table 9.  June 30 Sentence Length of Prison Population.. 24

TABLE 10.  NEW PRISON ADMISSIONS BY OFFENSE TYPE. 26

TABLE 11.  JUNE 30 POPULATION, LIFERS, MANDATORY MINIMUMS. 27

Table 12.  Prison Population Offense Types. 27

Table 13.  Risk Levels of Prison Population 6/30/2000, by Offense Class. 31

VII.  SIXTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT PROBATION PROJECT.. 32

Table 14.  Sixth District Probation Revocation Project.. 33

VIII.  TIME SERVED PRIOR TO PAROLE.. 35

Table 15.  Time Served Prior to Parole Approval. 36

Table 16.  Do Consecutive Sentences Affect Time Served?. 38

IX.  PAROLE REVOCATION.. 39

Table 17.  Type and Class of Convictions Leading to Automatic Revocations. 40

TABLE 18.  PAROLE REVOCATIONS, FY85-FY2000. 40

TABLE 19.  PAROLE RELEASES AND REVOCATIONS, FY2000. 42

TABLE 20.  PAROLE RELEASES AND REVOCATIONS 7/1/89 - 6/30/2000. 43

X.  VICTIM SERVICES. 44

Table 21.  FY 2000 Financial Report.. 46

APPENDIX I.  Decisions by Offense Class and Risk, FY2000  47

APPENDIX II.  Decisions by Risk, FY2000. 48


I.  HIGHLIGHTS

 

        The Board's final vacancy was filled in the fall of 1999 with the addition of Rev. Rogers Kirk, Jr.  Clarence Key, Jr., was also appointed new Executive Director of the Board in November, 1999.

        The Board in FY2000 approved 1,108 work release applications and 2,854 paroles.  Of the 5,493 individuals on parole caseloads during the year, only 484 were revoked, with four of these revocations due to new forcible felonies.

        Of all those paroled since July 1, 1989, only 17.2 percent have been revoked from parole.  Less than half of one percent have been revoked for committing new forcible felonies.

        In FY2000 the Board continued its innovative use of the Iowa Communications Network, which enables the board to maximize productive use of its time and permit interested parties the opportunity to view parole hearings without extensive travel.  The Board continued extensive use of the ICN in conducting hearings in FY2000, and the families of victims and inmates also attended hearings via the ICN.  The ICN was also used as an educational tool for high school students, permitting them to view Board hearings and question members and staff about their activities.

        The Board continued to expand its list of registered victims, ensuring that victims are notified of parole, work release, and revocation hearings, and providing them the opportunity for input in the deliberative process.

        The Board continued an experiment in the Sixth Judicial District, using the Senior Administrative Parole Judge for probation revocation hearings in which the original sentence was a suspended prison sentence, thereby providing additional consistency in these proceedings.  The legality of using administrative judges to handle probation revocations was upheld in a Linn County District Court ruling in September, 1999.

        The Board continued its use of risk assessment in granting or denying work release or parole.  This tool has enabled the Board to better protect the public while not delaying release for inmates who are good risks.

        The board continued using the Violator Program as an intermediate sanction for parolees and work releases who need additional supervision but who do not need to be revoked.  The existence of this program helps to individualize treatment and supervision regimens and provide a wider range of alternatives for those having difficulty on parole or work release.

 


II.  MISSION STATEMENT

 

Objectives:

 

        Comprehensive and efficient consideration for parole and work release of offenders committed to the Department of Corrections.

 

        Expeditious revocation of paroles of persons who violate release conditions.

 

        Careful consideration of victim opinions concerning the release of offenders and prompt notification to victims of Board of Parole release decisions.

 

        Quality advice to the Governor in matters relating to executive clemency.

 

        Timely research and analysis of issues critical to the performance of the Board of Parole.


III.  AGENCY OVERVIEW

 

The Iowa Board of Parole consists of five members appointed by the Governor.  The chairperson and vice-chair are full-time salaried members of the Board.  Three members are on a per diem basis and all five members serve staggered, four-year terms.

 

Iowa law states that the membership of the Board must be of good character and judicious background, must include a member of a minority group, may include a person ordained or designated a regular leader of a religious community and who is knowledgeable in correctional procedures and issues, and must meet at least two of the following three requirements:

 

1) contain one member who is a disinterested layperson;

2) contain one member who is an attorney licensed to practice law in this state and who is knowledgeable in correctional procedures and issues;

3) contain one member who is a person holding at least a master's degree in social work or counseling and guidance and who is knowledgeable in correctional procedures and issues.

 

BOARD OF PAROLE MEMBERSHIP

 

CHARLES W. LARSON, Chairperson, Cedar Rapids.  Larson was appointed to the Board of Parole in May, 1998, after serving as Iowa's Drug Policy Coordinator since 1993.  This is his second term with the Board of Parole.  Larson also served for seven years as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa.  From 1979 to 1982 he served in Saudi Arabia as a consultant to the Kingdom's Highway Patrol Project.  From 1973 to 1979 he served as Iowa's Commissioner of Public Safety.  Larson retired as a colonel from the Active Army Reserves.

 

ELIZABETH ROBINSON-FORD, Vice Chairperson, Davenport.  Robinson-Ford was appointed to the Board in November, 1994, and appointed Vice-Chairperson in 1999.  She was also recently appointed to serve on the Iowa Prisoner Minority Over-Representation Task Force.  Robinson-Ford has worked for the City of Shreveport, Louisiana, as an Administrative Assistant and Records Specialist for the Police Department.  She is a member of the Minority Chamber of Commerce, the Iowa Invests Mentor Program, the Juvenile Justice Committee, Big Sisters, and United Way.  She has an Associate Degree in Applied Sciences from Southern University at Shreveport and an Associate Degree in Business Administration/Accounting from Commercial Business College in Alexandria, Louisiana.  She retired as Administrative Assistant with the Scott County Decategorization Program in 1999.

 

CURTIS S. JENKINS, West Des Moines.  Jenkins was appointed to the Board of Parole by Governor Terry Branstad in 1997.  Jenkins has BS from Southern Illinois University.  He is the Business Manager of the Corinthian Baptist Church, Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Des Moines Alumni, and is President of KAPSI Foundation.  Jenkins served in the United States Air Force.  His volunteer work includes Internal Audit Committee and Tax Return Preparation for the Corinthian Baptist Church; he is an on-call Consultant for Mid-City Business Center; Speaker, Panel of Americans, NCCJ; and Speaker on Diversity.

 

KAREN KAPLAN MUELHAUPT, Des Moines.  Governor Thomas Vilsack appointed Muelhaupt to the Board of Parole in 1999.  She received her BA degree from Drake University in 1988.  She worked for the Department of Corrections as a Pre-sentence investigator from 1975-1985.  In 1985, she was hired as a rape counselor with Polk County Victim Services.  She co-created one of the Nation's first Homicide Crisis Response teams, and in 1997 was the recipient of the Presidential Crime Victims award.  She retired in 1998.  Muelhaupt is a licensed Social Worker.

 

ROGERS KIRK, JR., Davenport.  Kirk was appointed to the Board in November, 1999.  For the past four years he has been the Pastor of the Third Missionary Baptist Church of Davenport.  Pastor Kirk is President of the Iowa Congress of Christian Education, Dean of the Eastern District Association, Instructor in the National Congress of Christian Education, and Instructor at the American Baptist Theological Seminary.  He is also past-president of the NAACP Metro-Com Branch, Quad City Interfaith and serves on many state and local boards.  Pastor Kirk attended Northeast Louisiana University and has served parishes in Monroe and Ruston, Louisiana.

 

BOARD STAFF

 

Clarence Key, Jr., Executive Director.  The Board of Parole selected Clarence Key, Jr., as its Executive Director in November, 1999.  Key has a BA degree in Criminal Justice from Simpson College and has worked in state government for over twenty years.  Mr. Key has served as a probation officer for the 5th Judicial District Department of Correctional Services, as an Assistant for Corrections (Prison Ombudsman) for the Citizen's Aide Ombudsman, and as a Justice Systems Analyst for the Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning.  Key also currently serves as an executive board member of the Des Moines Branch of the NAACP and has been president of the Iowa Corrections Association (1993-1994).

 

Richard E. George, Administrative Law Judge

James C. Twedt, Senior Administrative Parole/Probation Judge

Jerry Menadue, Liaison Officer

Heather Hackbarth, Statistical Research Analyst

Karen Myers, Executive Officer

Lori Myers, Case Coordinator and Liaison Officer

Diane Jay, Victim Coordinator

Jo McGrane, Administrative Secretary

Carol Edmonston, Clerk

Virginia Shannon, Clerk

Michelle Carlson, Clerk Specialist

Theresa Brauer, Clerk Specialist

Paul Stageberg, Ph.D., Report Consultant


The Board wishes to extent its appreciation to Paul Stageberg, Ph.D., for his assistance in analysis of data and preparation of this report.

 

This project was supported by grant number 00C2-1989, awarded by the Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP).  Points of view in this document do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of either ODCP or the U.S. Department of Justice.


IV.  BOARD RESPONSIBILITIES

 

Inmate Reviews and Interviews.  By law, the Board systematically reviews the status of each person committed to the custody of the Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections and considers the person's prospects for parole or work release.  The Board reviews at least annually the status of persons other than Class A felons, Class B felons serving time under the 85% law or felons serving mandatory minimum sentences.  The Board also provides the person written notice of its parole or work release decision.

 

Not less than twenty days prior to conducting a hearing at which the Board interviews the person, the Board notifies the Department of Corrections regarding the interview schedule.  The Department then makes the person available to the Board at the person's institutional residence.

 

Risk Assessment.  The Board has used offender risk assessment since March, 1981.  Its use has enabled the Board to increase paroles while maintaining a high degree of public safety.  An offender is rated on a scale from one to nine.

 

Victim Notification.  The Board notifies registered victims of violent crimes of upcoming interviews with identified offenders and of decisions made at those interviews.  The victim or appointed counsel has the right to attend the interviews and testify.  In addition, all written communications from victims become a permanent part of offenders' files.

 

Parole.  The Board is empowered to grant, rescind, and revoke parole, as well as discharge offenders from parole.  The Board decides the conditions of parole, which may be added to by the supervising Judicial District.  In order to be granted parole, those receiving a parole risk score of one through six require three affirmative votes from the Board; a risk score of seven or eight requires four votes; and a risk score of nine requires all five votes.

 

Work Release.  The Board is empowered to grant or rescind work release.  Work release periods are approximately six months, but may be adjusted through Board action.

 

Review of Parole and Work Release Programs.  The Board is required to review parole and work release programs being instituted or considered nationwide and determine which programs may be useful for Iowa.  Each year the Board also reviews current parole and work release programs and procedures used in the State of Iowa.

 

Release Studies.  The Board is required to conduct studies of the parole and work release system as requested by the Governor and the General Assembly.

 

Review of Computer System.  The Board is required to increase utilization of data processing and computerization to assist in the orderly operation of the parole and work release system.


BOARD WORKLOAD

 

The information contained in this section provides a statistical summary of the Board's workload for FY2000.  As the tables and charts on the following pages indicate, the Board conducted a total of 9,526 release deliberations.  These deliberations resulted in the Board's granting 2,824 paroles and 1,108 work releases.  The majority of parole and work release grants were derived from case reviews rather than inmate interviews.

 

In FY2000 the Board continued taking particular care in paroling inmates convicted of crimes against persons.  While 29.2 percent of the 8,524 deliberations involving felons resulted in paroles, only 11.6 percent of those involving felonies against persons resulted in paroles.  Those convicted of crimes against persons were also less likely to be granted work release.

 

Parole revocation hearings totaled 618 in FY2000, compared to 543 in FY99.  Of the total hearings, 478 resulted in revocation of parole.  One hundred thirty-five of these (or 27.9 percent) were automatic revocations due to new convictions for felonies or aggravated misdemeanors. 

 

On occasion the Board may rescind a grant of parole or work release due to inmate misbehavior, failure to follow through in development of a parole or work release plan, or at an inmate's request.  In FY2000 there were 160 parole rescissions, with 25 of these resulting from inmate refusal of parole.  There were also 90 work release rescissions, with 33 of these due to inmate refusal.

 

Reviews of applications for restoration of citizenship totaled 558, with 422 (75.6 percent) recommended to the Governor.  Both these figures were down somewhat from FY99, when there were 578 reviews and 504 (87.2 percent) recommendations.

 

The Board reviewed 29 appeals from inmates requesting reconsideration of prior decisions resulting from revocation hearings.  Also, the number of offenders receiving simultaneous parole and discharge totaled 104.  These offenders are typically within 30 days of the end of their sentences, have had no recent disciplinary reports, are usually misdemeanants with low risk assessment scores, and are not serving sentences for felony sex offenses.  The Board has concluded that the short period remaining until expiration of sentence is insufficient for parole officers to verify parole plans or commence supervision.

 

While figures suggest significant decreases in activity involving executive clemency in FY2000, a change in the Board's computer system may have resulted in some of the drop.  Note that figures shown here for FY99 were developed on the new computer system; they differ from those in the FY99 Annual Report.

 

The research division completed 2,430 offender risk assessments in FY2000, compared to 2,909 in FY99.  As shown in the appendix, the Board makes consistent use of these assessments in determining whether to approve or deny parole or place inmates on work release.

 

Also, the victim coordinator reviewed 564 victim requests and mailed 2,102 notices to registered victims. Both these figures were up from FY99 (369 requests and 1,767 notices). The total number of registered victims at the end of FY2000 was 3,329, compared to 2,854 in FY99.

 

In accordance with Section 906.4 of the Code of Iowa, the Board collected information from the Judicial District Departments of Correctional Services on the number of hours of community service completed by probationers, work releases, and parolees.  In FY2000 it was reported that these clients completed 130,010 hours of community service.[1]  The number of hours completed ranged from 400 in the Fourth District to 65,714 in the Seventh.

 

The table and graphs on the following pages show the workload of the Board and staff members for FY 1999


 


Table 1.  Performance Summary, FY99 & FY2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FY1999

FY2000

% change

RELEASE DELIBERATIONS:

 

10,006

9,508

-5.0%

 

 

 

 

 

INMATE INTERVIEWS

 

1,609

1,450

-9.9%

 

Paroles Granted

754

535

-29.0%

 

Work Release Granted

313

359

14.7%

CASE REVIEWS

 

8,397

8,058

-4.0%

 

Paroles Granted

2,532

2,290

-9.6%

 

Work Release Granted

582

748

28.5%

 

 

 

 

 

REVOCATIONS/RESCISSIONS:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PAROLE REVOCATION HEARINGS

 

543

618

13.8%

 

Parole Revocations

373

484

29.8%

 

Automatic Revocations

84

135

60.7%

PAROLE RESCISSION REVIEWS

 

156

161

3.2%

 

Paroles Rescinded

156

161

3.2%

WORK RELEASE RESCISSION REVIEWS

 

101

90

-10.9%

 

Work Releases Rescinded

101

90

-10.9%

REVOCATION APPEALS

 

13

29

123.1%

 

Affirmed

10

20

100.0%

 

Amended

3

9

200.0%

 

 

 

 

 

EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY REQUESTS:

 

231

164

-29.0%

 

Granted

133

47

-64.7%

 

Denied

128

36

-71.9%

LIFER INTERVIEWS

 

0

1

--

 

Commutations Recommended

0

0

--

PARDON REVIEWS

 

29

32

10.3%

 

Pardons Recommended

17

8

-52.9%

RESTORATION OF CITIZENSHIP REVIEWS

 

578

465

-19.6%

 

Restorations Recommended

524

397

-24.2%

 

 

 

 

 

OTHER REVIEWS:

 

 

 

 

Inmate Board Decision Appeals

 

43

29

-32.6%

Parole to Discharge

 

339

104

-69.3%

 

 

 

 

 

OTHER BOARD WORK:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Risk Assessments Completed

 

2,909

2,430

-16.5%

Registered Victims, Yearend

 

2,854

3,329

16.6%

Victim Registration Requests

 

369

564

52.8%

Victim Notices Mailed

 

1,767

2,102

19.0%

 

 

 


Table 2.  Parole and Work Release Grants, FY92-FY2000

Year

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

% Change

Parole Grants

2,208

2,301

2,417

2,425

2,436

2,449

2,599

3,114

2,824

27.9%

Work Release Grants

768

895

914

939

967

879

1,094

1,067

1,108

44.3%


 

Table 3.  Decisions by Offense Class, FY2000

 

Parole Release

Work Release

Release Denied

Total

Offense Class

N

%

N

%

N

%

N

%

Compact Felony not person

0

0.0%

0

0.0%

4

50.0%

4

0.0%

Compact Felony Total

0

0.0%

0

0.0%

4

50.0%

4

0.0%

Other Felony not person

18

29.5%

13

12.5%

30

33.0%

61

0.6%

Other Felony Total

18

27.7%

13

11.6%

34

34.3%

65

0.7%

Habitual vs. person

13

28.3%

6

7.6%

27

37.0%

46

0.5%

Habitual not person

45

23.4%

30

8.8%

117

37.9%

192

2.0%

Habitual Total

58

24.4%

36

8.6%

144

37.7%

238

2.5%

A Felony

0

0.0%

0

0.0%

4

50.0%

4

0.0%

B Felony vs. person

65

6.3%

66

3.3%

905

46.6%

1,036

10.9%

B Felony not person

20

19.2%

9

4.8%

75

41.9%

104

1.1%

B Felony Total

85

7.5%

75

3.4%

980

46.2%

1,140

12.0%

C Felony vs. person

175

14.9%

110

5.0%

893

43.1%

1,178

12.4%

C Felony not person

656

33.1%

300

9.1%

1,026

34.1%

1,982

20.8%

C Felony Total

831

26.3%

410

7.5%

1,919

37.8%

3,160

33.2%

D Felony vs. person

71

13.5%

45

4.6%

408

43.8%

524

5.5%

D Felony not person

1,425

42.1%

457

8.5%

1,504

30.8%

3,386

35.6%

D Felony Total

1,496

38.3%

502

7.9%

1,912

32.8%

3,910

41.1%

Old Code vs. person

1

14.3%

0

0.0%

6

46.2%

7

0.1%

Old Code not person

0

 --

0

 --

0

 --

0

0.0%

Old Code Total

1

14.3%

0

0.0%

6

46.2%

7

0.1%

Total Felonies vs. person

325

11.6%

227

4.3%

2,243

44.5%

2,795

29.4%

Total Felonies not person

2,164

37.8%

809

8.7%

2,756

32.5%

5,729

60.3%

Total Felonies

2,489

29.2%

1,036

7.1%

4,999

37.0%

8,524

89.7%

Agg. Misd. vs. person

52

16.0%

18

3.0%

254

43.9%

324

3.4%

Agg. Misd. not person

271

44.1%

47

4.9%

296

32.5%

614

6.5%

Agg. Misdemeanor Total

323

34.4%

65

4.2%

550

37.0%

938

9.9%

Serious Misd. vs. person

3

14.3%

2

5.1%

16

43.2%

21

0.2%

Ser. Misd. Not person

9

36.0%

5

12.2%

11

30.6%

25

0.3%

Serious Misdemeanor Total

12

26.1%

7

8.8%

27

37.0%

46

0.5%

Total Misd. vs. person

55

15.9%

20

3.1%

270

43.9%

345

3.6%

Total Misd. Not person

280

43.8%

52

5.2%

307

32.5%

639

6.7%

Total Misdemeanors

335

34.0%

72

4.4%

577

37.0%

984

10.3%

All Crimes vs. person

380

12.1%

247

4.2%

2,513

44.5%

3,140

33.0%

All Crimes not person

2,444

38.4%

861

8.4%

3,063

32.5%

6,368

67.0%

Total All Crimes

2,824

29.7%

1,108

6.8%

5,576

37.0%

9,508

100.0%

Note: Parole release, work release, and denied column percentages add up horizontally.  Total

column percentages add up vertically.

As is suggested in the chart above, expiration of sentence has played an increasing role as a means of exit from Iowa's prison population[2].  This is due primarily to the Board's belief that there are certain types of offenders from whom the public must be protected as long as possible.  While the Board supports the concept of supervision after release from prison, it is thought that maintaining some offenders as long as possible in a secure environment will contribute to public safety.  To illustrate the variation among offender types in release practices, Table 4 is presented below:

Table 4.  Paroles and Expirations, by Offense Class and type, FY2000

Offense Class and Type

Expirations

Paroles

Expir. %

Total Class B Felony

9

85

9.6%

Total Class C Felony, Persons

84

175

32.4%

Total Class C Felony, Non-persons

73

656

10.0%

Total Class C Felony

157

831

15.9%

Total Class D Felony, Persons

108

71

60.3%

Total Class D Felony, Non-persons

313

1,425

18.0%

Total Class D Felony

421

1,496

22.0%

Habitual Criminal

 

58

0.0%

Total Other Felonies

12

19

38.7%

Total All Felonies

599

2,489

19.4%

Total Aggravated Misdem., Persons

135

52

72.2%

Total Aggravated Misd, Non-persons

148

272

35.2%

Total Aggravated Misdemeanor

283

324

46.6%

Total Serious Misdemeanor, Persons

10

3

76.9%

Total Serious Misdem., Non-persons

11

8

57.9%

Total Serious Misdemeanor

21

11

65.6%

Total All Misdemeanors

304

335

47.6%

Grand Total

903

2,824

24.2%

 

 

Readers interested in an expanded version of this table are urged to consult a supplementary report on time served prior to release, available through the Iowa Board of Parole.

Due to the provisions of Iowa Code chapter 914, a person convicted of a criminal offense has the right to make application for executive clemency to the Governor of Iowa.  The Governor requests that the Board of Parole make a recommendation regarding these applications.  Requests for restoration of citizenship may also be submitted directly to the Iowa Board of Parole within sixty days of discharge from supervision. All applications for commutation, pardons, special restoration of citizenship (firearms), restoration of citizenship (after Board's sixty day time frame) must be submitted to the Governor's office, which then forwards the applications on to the Board for review.  Table 5 shows activity in this area for FY2000.  Note that a number of applications may be pending at any given time, so the total number of applications shown in the table may not equal the number of approvals plus denials.

 

TABLE 5.  EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY, FY2000

Application Type

Received

Granted

Denied

Commutation

1

0

1

Pardon

32

8

12

Special Citizenship (firearms)

39

13

14

Restoration of Citizenship (Gov.)

93

25

10

Restoration of Citizenship (Board)

465

397

68

Federal Restoration of Citizenship

0

1

0

Total

630

444

105


V.  IOWA COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK

 

On July 14, 1994, the Board began to make use of the new Iowa Communications Network (ICN) to manage the State's prison population more effectively and efficiently.

 

The ICN is a statewide two-way full motion fiber optic communication network that uses modern technology to connect points throughout all of Iowa's ninety-nine counties.  This network facilitates a variety of Board functions including parole interviews, registered victim input, and parole revocation hearings.  Further, the ICN has allowed criminal justice students and the public to observe actual interviews of inmates being considered for parole or work release.

 

Iowa is the first state in the Nation to use its fiber optics system for monthly parole interviews.  Since its initial use of the system in July of 1994, the Board experienced few difficulties with the ICN; the benefits (i.e., cost effectiveness, reduced travel time, and ease of use) have generated positive reactions from the Board, the media, the public, and other states.  Inmates and family members have also expressed support for participation in the interview process via the ICN.

 

With the completion of its own classroom in October, 1995, the Board greatly increased its use of the ICN in the parole process.  The Board no longer needs to prepare volumes of inmate files for transport to an ICN classroom; files are reviewed from the Board's conference room.  Thus, transportation and security concerns regarding inmate files have been greatly reduced.

 

Prior to ICN, victims desiring input were required to travel to a distant institution, were subjected to a rigorous security check, and were possibly seated in the same room as the inmate's family and friends.  With the creation of the Board's TeleVictim Program, a registered victim is notified of the intended release hearing and is directed to an ICN site near the victim's home.  The victim travels to the local site, provides input, and returns home.  The process often requires a few minutes instead of many hours under the old process.  Further, the ICN separates victims from inmates, families, and friends and helps defuse potentially tense situations.  The incorporation of the registered victim input process via the ICN continues to be a model for parole board interaction with registered victims.

 

Nine hundred twenty-three parole and probation revocation hearings have been conducted via the ICN since July of 1994.  Prior to the creation of the ICN, parole revocation hearings required travel to counties where the alleged parole violation occurred, which could involve as many as four hours of travel one-way.  With the advent of ICN, the Parole Judge travels to a nearby ICN classroom, conducts the hearings, determines violations and appropriate sanctions, and proceeds to the next case.  Probation revocation cases are handled as part of the pilot project in the Sixth Judicial District.  Of the 471 ICN hearings conducted in FY2000, 178 were probation revocation hearings.  Further information on these will be found in the chapter on the Sixth Judicial District pilot program.

 

The existence of the ICN permitted the Board of Parole to establish its TeleJustice 2000 Education Project in May of 1998 in cooperation with the Heartland Area Education Association.  The three main objectives of this project are the following:

        To provide students with information about ICN Technology

        To provide students with information about the criminal justice system

        To provide students with information about actual real life substance abuse problems.

 

This project places high school students in the live Parole interview sessions of the Parole Board via the ICN.  Students view inmates making pleas for freedom and the Board's reactions as they occur.  At the conclusion of sessions the students can question the Board or the students' in-class attorney volunteers. This process enables the students also learn about the characteristics of incarcerated offenders in Iowa and the behaviors that resulted in their imprisonment.  Since May of 1998 the Board has hosted over 71 high school classes in this project.  Use of the ICN for this purpose has been met with enthusiasm among students, teachers, and local media.  A portion of one account follows:

 

“When Iowa's senior administrative parole judge James Twedt wanted to bring convicted felons into a Roland-Story classroom, it sounded like a good idea – as long as the classroom was the district's ICN room.

 

“Through a relatively new educational outreach component of the Iowa Parole Board conceived by Twedt, a freshmen [sic] study hall supervised by English teacher Batista Simpson recently witnessed live hearings of the Iowa parole board as they interviewed inmates from Clarinda, a men's correctional facility.

 

“The parole board was at the ICN origination site in Des Moines, with remote sites at the prison, as well as a few college and high school classrooms around the state.  Each classroom site had a legal professional present, like Judge Twedt at the Roland-Story site, to answer student questions and explain the process.

 

“Aside from learning about ways that the justice system is utilizing the same technology that educational institutions have been using for some time for distance learning, Twedt also hopes the experience can serve another purpose – of prevention.  By showing the real life consequences of poor decisions, and demonstrating the way these decisions have affected the inmates' lives, Twedt hopes that at least a few students may be diverted from following that path…

 

“One of the parole board members told the inmate that the interviews were being witnessed by high school students and asked him if he had any advice for them in avoiding the position he was currently in.  ‘Listen to people who care about you,' he said.  ‘One of my biggest mistakes was that I didn't listen to people trying the help me…'

 

“Aside from the educational benefits of what has become known as “TeleJustice,” using the state's fiber optic network for legal purposes has many advantages.  As a parole revocation judge, Twedt was used to driving all over Iowa to preside over hearings.  He estimates that the use of the ICN to place all parties together without the actual physical presence has saved him hours each week in travel time.  Since the first ICN parole revocation hearing on July 21, 1994, the Board's two administrative parole judges have conducted more than 250 hearings over the fiber optic network.

 

“Because the ICN provides such an easy and inexpensive way to involve students in the criminal justice system, Twedt plans to continue providing high school and college students with the opportunity to witness the process in action.”[3]

 

The Board has also utilized the ICN for a number of special projects, including statewide meetings of registered victims and training of parole and probation officers and local public defenders.

 

The Board has long been a proponent of installing ICN video in county courthouses.  In Fiscal year 1995 the Board received a GASA grant and cooperation from Scott County to install a compressed video system from the Davenport Courthouse to the Board's Offices in Des Moines.  This prototype system worked well until equipment malfunctions disabled the system in February, 1997.

 

The Board's TeleJustice 2000 Video Project is a program to install current video technology in selected Iowa courthouses (Linn County, Polk County, Scott County and Sioux County) along with the Polk County Jail and Interim Jail.  The project will also connect selected criminal justice locations to these facilities. 

           

The most recent step in this process involved the installation of a video courtroom in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Courtroom 1B in the Linn County Courthouse became Iowa's first regularly used ICN TeleJustice Video Courtroom.  This courtroom is a state-of-the-art facility with all Sony video equipment and Jefferson Audio-Video audio equipment.  The prime feature of this court is the video automatically follows voice (i.e. the camera automatically pictures the person speaking without any direct action on the part of the speaker) Another feature of this courtroom is the ability to play back video and audio from one VCR while recording the playback on another VCR.

 

At the present time, the TeleJustice Courtroom is used primarily for Parole and Probation Revocation Hearings.  Senior Administrative Parole and Probation Judge James C. Twedt has conducted approximately 199 hearings from his Boone Field Office to Video Courtroom 1B in Cedar Rapids.  This process allows Judge Twedt to avoid the 3-hour drive to Cedar Rapids and the 3-hour return trip.

           

Future uses of the TeleJustice Courtroom include remote witness testimony, post conviction hearings from penal institutions, juvenile hearings, and remote depositions.

 

Additional future uses include video arraignments, bond hearings, mental health hearings, training for law enforcement officials, and domestic abuse and protection orders.

 

One of the more unusual future applications for the TeleJustice courtroom is the ability to have interpreters and sign language professionals available on site with an ICN connection.  There is a possibility that Veteran and Social Security disability hearings may utilize this convenient ICN connection in Cedar Rapids.

           

 

 



Table 6. Mileage Saved by ICN

 

 

Board Meetings

Revocations

Victims

Families

 

Fiscal Year

Mileage

Hours

Mileage

Hours

Mileage

Hours

Mileage

Hours

1995

6,444

128.9

11,590

231.8

3,306

66.1

5,344

106.9

1996

6,081

121.6

22,666

453.3

1,285

25.7

5,951

119.0

1997

7,416

148.3

16,726

334.5

2,480

49.6

6,016

120.3

1998

11,608

232.2

17,682

353.6

5,317

106.3

24,746

494.9

1999

10,506

210.1

17,432

348.6

3,666

73.3

15,768

315.4

2000

13,976

279.5

46,086

921.7

5,094

101.9

15,333

306.7

Note: hours were calculated as mileage divided by 50.  Mileage for Board meetings and revocations were calculated as the distance between Des Moines and the institution in which hearings were held.  Mileage for victims and families was developed by identifying victims and families who attended ICN hearings, locating their place of residence, and calculating the distance between there and the site of the hearing.

 

The Board plans continued use of such technological advances as the ICN as it strives to protect the public from serious crime.


 

 

Table 7.  ICN Hearings, Interviews, and Costs, by Fiscal Year

 

Fiscal Year

Hearings

Interviews

Costs

 

 

1995

68

286

$3,385.70

 

 

1996

84

262

$7,348.25

 

 

1997

81

314

$8,798.00

 

 

1998

79

747

$7,883.21

 

 

1999

140

865

$10,613.08

 

 

2000

471

999

$28.561.22*

 

 

*Cost data for FY2000 are estimated, as figures for May, 2000 were unavailable.  Estimated May figures were developed using prorated figures from the 11-month totals.


VI.  PRISON POPULATION

This section is included because, while boards of parole have some control over output from prisons, they have little control over input to prisons.  Although boards of parole may have some impact on the nature of the prison population through paroling activity (e.g., through either hastening or delaying release of certain types of prisoners), by and large the prison population is a “given” with which a board must work.

 

Table 8 shows the make-up of Iowa's prison population on June 30, 2000, dividing the population into offense classes and persons/non-persons groups.  The largest portion of the population is serving time for Class C and Class D felonies (ten-year and five-year maximums) which are not against persons.  The only other category of offense accounting for more than ten percent of the population is Class B felonies against persons (principally robbery in the first degree).

 

TABLE 8.  PRISON POPULATION BY OFFENSE TYPE

 6/30/2000

 

NON PERSONS OFFENSES

PERSONS OFFENSES

TOTAL

 

OFFENSE CLASS

N

%

N

%

N

%

Class A Felony

 

0.0%

486

100.0%

486

6.5%

Class B Felony

305

23.9%

971

76.1%

1,276

17.1%

Other Felony

292

89.3%

35

10.7%

327

4.4%

Class C Felony

1,496

59.0%

1,038

41.0%

2,534

33.9%

Class D Felony

1,827

81.2%

424

18.8%

2,251

30.1%

Agg. Misdemeanor

281

62.9%

166

37.1%

447

6.0%

Ser. Misdemeanor

19

46.3%

22

53.7%

41

0.5%

Violator Program

97

91.5%

9

8.5%

106

1.4%

All Inmates

4,317

57.8%

3,151

42.2%

7,468

100.0%

           Source: ACIS.  Excludes 44 compact/safekeepers, 116 federal prisoners, and 8 unknowns.

 

 

Table 9, on page 26, presents data on the length of sentences of inmates in residence on June 30 going back to 1990.  The table shows increases in each category, but the largest growth among sentences of five years to less than ten years.  This may be due to a combination a factors: a greater likelihood on the part of judges to incarcerate Class D felons; a higher rate of failure among Class D felony probationers (these data don't distinguish between direct court commitments and probation revocations); or an increasing length-of-stay for this group.

 

The table also shows considerable growth in the number of inmates serving sentences of fifteen to fifty years (habitual criminal statutes and Class B felonies).  Two phenomena are probably at work here.  First, there are clearly more inmates being incarcerated with these long sentences as more crimes have been classified as Class B felonies.  Second, those who have been committed on these crimes have gradually been serving greater percentages of their sentences.  This trend is expected to continue as those serving under the “85 percent law” pass the point at which they would have been released under previous practices.


 

 

Table 9.  June 30 Sentence Length of Prison Population

Sentence Length

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

% Change

Less than 2 years

13

18

32

20

38

22

24

29

35

29

20

53.8%

2 years-less than 5

195

185

219

252

280

296

334

372

448

411

402

106.2%

5 years-less than 10

790

847

885

1,103

1,187

1,552

1,807

1,998

2,284

2,127

2,180

175.9%

10 years-less than 15

1,711

1,776

1,898

1,967

1,937

2,178

2,237

2,342

2,615

2,574

2,591

51.4%

15 years-less than 20

114

130

148

171

164

194

210

226

244

242

258

126.3%

20 years-less than 50

533

550

592

647

708

809

870

944

1,020

1,061

1,220

128.9%

50 years or more

397

417

455

477

499

538

575

623

651

655

717

80.6%

Unknown

89

154

256

58

277

103

119

192

134

132

258

189.9%

Total Population

3,842

4,077

4,485

4,695

5,090

5,692

6,176

6,726

7,431

7,231

7,646

99.0%

Source: Department of Corrections E-1 Reports

 

Table 9 also shows that, since FY1990, Iowa's prison population has risen 99 percent, or slightly under ten percent per year.  The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that nationally, prison populations increased an average of 6.5 percent each year from 1990 to 1999.[4]  During 1999 the national prison population increase of 3.4 percent was the smallest growth rate since 1979.  Iowa's prison population grew at 5.7 percent in FY2000 after dropping the previous year.  The national growth in calendar 1999 was 3.1 percent.  While prison populations have risen steadily throughout the Nation since 1990, Iowa's increase has eclipsed the national average; according to BJS, Iowa's increase from 1990 to 1999 was the Nation's fifteenth highest. 

 

The chart on the following page also presents this information, but eliminates sentences of less than two years and the unknown category to make interpretation easier.  This shows even more clearly the dramatic rise in those serving sentences of five years to less than ten years (principally Class D felons).  At least a portion of this rise has been due to the creation of a new offense, Burglary-3rd degree (a Class D felony), in 1992.  With the creation of this offense there has been a large decrease in the number of Burglary-2nd convictions, reducing the rise in Class C felony convictions and contributing to the rise in Class D convictions.

 

The other point that is evident in the bar graph is the increase in inmates serving sentences of twenty to less than fifty years in the past two years.  These offenses would primarily be Class B felonies.  While the number of those serving sentences of less than ten years has dropped since FY98, there has been an increase of 200 inmates serving twenty to less than 50 years, almost accounting entirely for the increase in prison population over that period.

                       

Source: Department of Corrections E-1 Reports.

 

To further provide an idea of the nature changes in the prison population, Table 10 is presented below, showing changes in the number of broad offender types in prison admissions between FY91 and FY2000.  The largest changes over the period shown on the table have been seen in drug offenses (+178 percent), weapons (+170 percent), assault (+143 percent), other miscellaneous offenses (+121 percent), and pimping/prostitution.  Only two of these increases, however, have involved significant numbers of offenders: drug offenses and assault.  Both of these, plus burglary, robbery, and pimping/prostitution showed double-digit increases in FY2000.

 

Two offenses showed decreased admissions during the eight-year period: murder/manslaughter (perhaps stemming from fewer homicides) and arson.  Each of these offenses involves a small number of admissions each year, and such small numbers are susceptible to large yearly fluctuation.  Last year, for example, pimping/prostitution showed no change since 1990, but this year it is listed among the offenses showing the largest increase since that time.

 

Fully six of the sixteen offenses included here showed decreases in FY00 from FY99.  The most noteworthy of these were found for OWI/traffic (a drop from 457 to 408 admissions), theft (drop from 414 to 397), sexual abuse (drop from 225 to 209) and forgery/fraud (drop from 212 to 191).  Theft, forgery/fraud, and sexual abuse have shown decreases for two consecutive years.   Each of these offenses accounts for many admissions each year, and continued drops would have hopeful implications for controlling growth in Iowa's prison system.


 

 

TABLE 10.  NEW PRISON ADMISSIONS BY OFFENSE TYPE

(New Court Commitments and Probation Revocations)

FY1990-2000

Primary Offense

FY90

FY91

FY92

FY93

FY94

FY95

FY96

FY97

FY98

FY99

FY00

% Chng 90-00

% Chng 99-00

Drug Offenses

303

235

319

369

340

338

466

523

653

654

841

177.6%

28.6%

Burglary

372

335

364

342

349

352

374

400

438

366

428

15.1%

16.9%

OWI/Traffic

334

123

172

208

280

258

231

280

392

457

408

22.2%

-10.7%

Theft

319

322

353

362

318

322

402

406

448

414

397

24.5%

-4.1%

Assault

137

128

122

169

189

214

246

273

325

298

333

143.1%

11.7%

Sexual Abuse

183

212

224

205

251

232

212

206

233

225

209

14.2%

-7.1%

Forgery/Fraud

138

129

134

126

158

216

223

226

281

212

191

38.4%

-9.9%

Robbery

83

74

79

85

111

114

111

84

90

90

122

47.0%

35.6%

All Other Offenses

34

46

42

62

41

45

46

35

64

69

75

120.6%

8.7%

Weapons

20

28

37

43

55

69

91

79

74

63

54

170.0%

-14.3%

Murder/Mansl

56

66

77

45

48

56

57

72

56

47

50

-10.7%

6.4%

Criminal Mischief

24

24

43

35

30

32

34

34

35

32

35

45.8%

9.4%

Pimping/Prost.

11

17

34

16

21

29

29

23

32

11

21

90.9%

90.9%

Flight/Escape

11

9

17

15

11

19

24

21

26

30

18

63.6%

-40.0%

Arson

20

28

18

23

16

32

18

20

16

18

16

-20.0%

-11.1%

Kidnapping

10

12

9

8

18

17

10

15

17

13

13

30.0%

0.0%

Tot. Admits

2,055

1,788

2,044

2,113

2,236

2,345

2,574

2,697

3,180

2,999

3,210

56.2%

7.0%

Source: Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning, data taken from ACIS

 

 

 

Another source of change in the population is shown in Table 11, which presents data on the yearend population, persons serving life sentences, and persons serving mandatory minimum sentences.  This table is somewhat surprising in regards to “lifers,” as, while there have been steady increases in persons serving life sentences, over the last ten years their percentage change has been less than that of the population as a whole (perhaps due to a general drop in homicide).  Due in part to legislative action, the number of those serving mandatory minimum terms, however, has risen faster than the population as a whole, with most of the increase occurring since FY93.  The drop in mandatory minimums between 1999 and 2000 is apparently attributable to a change in record-keeping rather than a change in the nature of the prison population itself.


 

TABLE 11.  JUNE 30 POPULATION, LIFERS, MANDATORY MINIMUMS

Year

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

%Chng

Yearend Population

3,842

4,077

4,485

4,695

5,090

5,692

6,176

6,636

7,431

7,231

7,646

88.2%

Lifers at Yearend

297

315

355

363

385

403

428

458

480

491

512

65.3%

Mandatory Minimums

636

659

698

746

770

902

986

1,142

1,416

1,632

1,279

156.6%

Net Parolable

2,909

3,103

3,432

3,586

3,935

4,387

4,762

5,036

5,535

5,108

5,855

75.6%

Source: E-1 reports

 

Table 12 shows a broader picture of changes in the prison population, examining the inmate population by the type of commission offense on June 30.  It shows that, between FY1991 and FY2000, the increase in inmates committed for persons offenses clearly outstripped that for non-persons offenses.  Note that between 1991 and 1998 there either were more non-persons offenders in the population than persons offenders or the difference between the two was slight.  Since 1998, however, a change has occurred, with at least 400 more persons offenders imprisoned.

 

Beginning in FY93, the population also includes a breakdown of those committed for “chemical offenses,” which include drug and alcohol offenses.  Since that time the percentage increase in chemical offenses is much greater than for either persons or non-persons offenses, and the raw increase in chemical offenses almost equals that for persons offenses. 

 

 

Table 12.  Prison Population Offense Types

Offense Type

1991

1992

1993

1994*

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

% Chng

95-2000

Person

2,066

2,352

2,166

2,415

2,682

2,883

3,077

3,387

3,403

3,566

64.7%

33.0%

Non-person

2,512

2,779

2,298

2,435

2,763

2,926

3,067

3,401

3,022

3,049

20.3%

10.4%

Chemical

 

 

898

1,005

1,094

1,299

1,476

1,808

1,933

2,167

--

98.1%

 

*Estimated.  Actual total will be within 5.

Source: Department of Corrections E-1 Reports.  Totals may not equal total number of inmates in system due to offenders committed for multiple offenses of different type.

 

Comparing Iowa's prison population to the state prison populations nationally, in 1999 Iowa's population of 7,646 consisted of 47 percent persons offenders, 40 percent non-persons offenders, and 28 percent  drug offenders.[5]  In 1998 (the last year for which figures are available) sentenced prisoners nationally consisted of 48 percent violent offenders, 21 percent property offenders, 21 percent drug offenders, and 10 percent public order offenders.[6]  While the Iowa percentages shown above are not directly comparable to the national totals because of the lack of data on public order offenders, the Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning has prepared comparable figures for its 2000 Inmate Profile[7].  That report shows Iowa with 41 percent violent offenders, 28 percent property offenders, 22 percent drug offenders, and nine percent public order offenders.  This suggests that property offenders are slightly over-represented in the Iowa prison system compared to prison systems in other states.  This over-representation may be characteristic of Midwestern states, however, as they typically report low rates of violent crime and mid-range rates of property crime.

 

National figures also differ from Iowa's in the types of offenses resulting in population increases.  Nationally, fully 51 percent of the increase in prison population between 1990 and 1998 consisted of violent offenders, with drug offenders and property accounting for another 21 percent each, and public-order offenders 10 percent.  In Iowa, however, most of the increase has been due to chemical (drug and alcohol) offenders, whose numbers have more than doubled since 1993.

 

Another look at the prison population is presented in the graph below, which shows changes in the types of prison admissions since state FY84.  A nearly steady increase in overall admissions has been seen since FY84, with the only exceptions occurring in 1991 and 1999.  The largest total increase occurred during FY98 (when admissions increased by 485), closely followed by FY2000 (an increase of 464).

 

Both direct court commitments and total commitments reached their highest levels in FY2000.  While direct commitments have generally risen gradually over the period, the increase in probation revocations and suspensions has occurred primarily since 1993, more than doubling between 1993 and 1998 before decreases in FY99 and FY2000.  Even with these decreases, this means that a significant portion of the prison population has already had opportunities to avoid incarceration by serving periods of probation in the community, but that they have failed.  This is one of the factors leading to increased caution on the part of the Board in granting parole. 

 

This reduction in probation revocations has significance also because increases in probation revocations have recently been one of the driving forces behind Iowa's increasing prison population.  Between FY91 and FY98, probation revocations had increased from 578 to 1,694 (or 193 percent).  During the same period direct court commitments increased from 2,891 to 4,735 (or 64 percent).  In FY92 parole revocations and suspensions and probation revocations were nearly equal.  Since then, however, probation revocations and suspensions have reached a level almost four times that of parole revocations and suspensions.  Even with the drop in probation revocations in FY99 and FY2000, they outnumbered parole revocations by nearly 3:1.

 

Source: Department of Corrections E-1 Reports.

       

 

The next graph shows end-of-year prison population, total admissions, total releases, and parole releases.  More than previous tables and charts, this one shows increasing caution on the part of the Board in protecting the public.  As shown previously in the Workload section, through FY2000 paroles have accounted for a smaller portion of overall releases in recent years, as the Board has allowed more inmates to expire sentences rather than granting them parole.  This is consistent with public safety concerns, as Iowa research has previously shown that some high-risk inmates are best incapacitated for as long a period as possible to ensure public safety.  The net result of this approach is that, through FY2000, the number of paroles granted has varied little since 1986, when there were 1,216 paroles out of a total prison population of 2,722.  That year, slightly more than half the releases from prison were via parole.  Since that time, with the advent of additional release opportunities such as work release, paroles as a percentage of all releases have dropped.  This trend continued in FY2000.  See page 16 for further illustration of this trend.  Note that figures for this chart come from ACIS; due to delays in release, rescissions, and other factors, the number of paroles in this chart may not necessarily agree with figures presented elsewhere in this report.

 


                                Source: Department of Corrections E-1 Reports.

 

 

 A final description of the prison population is provided in Table 13, which shows the distribution of risk levels in the prison population.  This may be compared with tables pertaining to risk levels and parole decision-making later in the report.  The table shows that, of the included groups of offenders, those serving time for Class A felonies show the lowest statistical risk.  Those serving time for Serious Misdemeanors shows the highest average risk.  Neither of these is particularly surprising, given that the risk score is based upon offense seriousness and the duration and intensity of the prior criminal history.  Class A felons are sent to prison based upon the severity of a single offense, while Serious Misdemeanants are incarcerated only with lengthy criminal histories or failure to cooperate on probation.

 

Also note the relative similarity of scores for Class B, Class C, and Class D felons, but the higher scores of “Other” felonies.  This latter group includes those convicted of habitual criminal statutes who would possess lengthy criminal histories.


 

 

Table 13.  Risk Levels of Prison Population 6/30/2000, by Offense Class

 

 

LEAD OFFENSE CLASS

 

RISK

A Felony

B Felony

Other Fel.

C Felony

D Felony

Ag. Misd

Ser. Misd

Total

Uncoded

101

323

81

906

683

138

5

2,237

1

85

143

4

119

31

6

1

389

2

37

93

18

245

271

63

 

727

3

39

69

7

80

57

10

1

263

4

3

18

9

67

94

15

 

206

5

1

27

39

152

209

28

1

457

6

59

139

31

326

239

48

3

845

7

 

6

25

50

92

10

 

183

8

62

124

51

216

220

42

3

718

9

99

334

84

421

310

67

8

1,323

Total

486

1,276

349

2,582

2,206

427

22

7,348

Mean

5.28

5.89

6.78

5.79

5.77

5.74

7.24

5.82

Excludes: federal prisoners; interstate compact; safekeepers; and violator program participants.

Means exclude uncoded cases.

 


VII.  SIXTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT PROBATION PROJECT

 

During the 1997 legislative session, Governor Branstad recommended that the legislature authorize the Parole Board's Administrative Parole Judges to conduct probation revocation hearings in the Sixth Judicial District on an experimental basis.  The reasons for this recommendation were two-fold:

        To reduce the workload of criminal court judges.

        To take advantage of the parole Judges' correctional sanctioning expertise.

 

The General Assembly accepted this recommendation and passed Senate File 503, which became effective July 1, 1997.  The Parole Board began implementing the statute on that date and held numerous planning sessions with the Sixth District judges, county attorneys, clerks of court, sheriffs, and Department of Corrections.  Due to an early interpretation of the statute, the Board not only was deemed in charge of hearings, but also arrest warrants, bonds, initial appearances, and appointment of counsel.  The Board proceeded under this interpretation of the law until December 31, 1997, when Sixth District Court Judge David M. Remley ruled the project invalid.  The Parole Board appealed this decision to the Iowa Supreme Court but dismissed its appeal when the legislature modified the statute to correct the alleged deficiencies of the project by passing Senate File 2377, which became effective on May 22, 1998.

 

A further challenge to the Sixth District project occurred in 1999, resulting in a ruling handed down by District Court Judge L. Vern Robinson on September 2.  Petitioners had both received suspended sentences and had been placed on probation, only to have the probation later revoked by an administrative law judge.  In this case, as in earlier cases, the petitioners claimed a lack of due process and equal protection, and also challenged the use of administrative law judges in revocations on the basis of separation of powers.  The Court determined that the revocation procedure used in the Sixth Judicial district as set out in section 907.8A was constitutional.

 

During the 2000 legislative session the life of the Sixth District Pilot Project was continued for another two years.

 

Probation revocation hearings held by the Administrative Law Judge rose markedly during FY2000, as the number of cases disposed increased from 74 in FY99 to 258 in FY 2000.  The monthly distribution of dispositions is shown on the following page.  The historical data on the Sixth District project have shown causes (i.e., cases) disposed.  Because more than one case may be dealt with in a single hearing, this year's figures includes the actual number of hearings, as well.  By either measure, however, dispositions increased dramatically in FY2000.


 

Table 14.  Sixth District Probation Revocation Project

Dispositions, FY2000, by Month

 

Month

Causes

Hearings

 

 

Jul-99

15

14

 

 

Aug-99

16

13

 

 

Sep-99

17

15

 

 

Oct-99

12

11

 

 

Nov-99

16

15

 

 

Dec-99

27

25

 

 

Jan-2000

25

21

 

 

Feb-00

24

18

 

 

Mar-00

21

18

 

 

Apr-00

29