Gov. Reynolds, stakeholders to host public safety forum to address criminal justice challenges

Gov. Kim Reynolds and a broad coalition of stakeholders will host a statewide forum on public safety next month to address challenges in rural Iowa, restorative justice, improving responses to those in the criminal justice system with behavioral health needs and strengthening community supervision.

Gov. Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg will provide opening remarks at the event on Tuesday, June 19, which will take place at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville. Chief Justice Mark Cady and a representative from the attorney general’s office will also speak.

Attendees will include county and state leaders, criminal justice experts, policymakers, victims, victim advocates, people returning to the community from incarceration, community advocates and corrections and behavioral health practitioners.

“Next month, leaders from across Iowa will meet to collectively look for ways to improve public safety outcomes for Iowans in the criminal justice system,” Gov. Reynolds said. “It’s imperative we hold people in the system accountable for their actions, but it’s also important they receive the intervention necessary to change their behavior.”

While Iowa’s prison population remained stable from 2005-2015, the population is projected to increase 30 percent over the next ten years. During the same period, Iowa experienced a low return-to-prison rate, but a growing probation and parole population is threatening efforts to keep the recidivism rate low. From 2005-2015, the number of people on probation in Iowa increased 28 percent while the number of people on parole increased 66 percent.

“Iowa has made progress in reforming its criminal justice system, but there is still more work to do,” Lt. Gov. Gregg said. “This collaboration is key to reducing crime, addressing the needs of victims, improving responses to people with behavioral health needs in the criminal justice system and ensuring the appropriate resources are available to high-risk individuals on community supervision.”

The statewide forum builds on work started last year through the 50-State Summit on Public Safety, hosted by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center in partnership with the Association of the State Correctional Administrators (ASCA). The CSG Justice Center is a national nonprofit organization that provides practical, nonpartisan advice and evidence-based strategies to increase public safety and strengthen communities.

Key leaders from Iowa, including Iowa Department of Corrections Director Jerry Bartruff, joined teams from 49 other states at the summit to examine local criminal justice trends and identify strategies for reducing crime and recidivism, improving outcomes for people with mental health and substance addictions and reducing spending on prisons and jails.

“With a wide-ranging group of stakeholders, the statewide forum on public safety is an opportunity to celebrate our progress in implementing strategies to lower recidivism and avoid corrections costs while acknowledging the challenges ahead,” Dir. Bartruff said. “I’m looking forward to further exploring the state’s criminal justice and behavioral health trends so we can develop a coordinated plan to address these challenges.”

The forum will be facilitated by representatives from the CSG Justice Center. Funding for forum is provided by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.

“This forum is a chance to bring people together and identify how we may continue our work to keep Iowans safe and healthy across the state,” Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Roxann Ryan said.

Those interested in registering for the event can visit DOC.Iowa.gov.