Some Iowa prison inmates would get out of prison early to relieve overcrowding under a bill passed by the state Senate last night. Senator Don Redfern, a Republican from Cedar Falls, says inmates who are released would have more supervision on parole than they do now after serving a full sentence but he warns, the bill is not a “silver bullet.” He says we will be building a new prison some day, but this provides some flexibility. Senator Chuck Larson, a Republican from Cedar Rapids, offered an amendment to the bill to make some inmates serve a longer portion of their sentences before being eligible for the early release. Larson told colleagues if they didn’t support his amendment, they would be letting out violent offenders at a rapid pace. He says they’d be letting out pedophiles, gang rapists, and those convicted of second degree murder, armed robbery. Larson’s amendment passed, prompting Senator Mike Connolly, a Democrat from Dubuque, to say Iowa’s corrections system is eating the state budget alive. He says they can’t step up and do the right thing because they’re too afraid of being labeled soft on crime. The bill heads to the Iowa House where it’s expected to face an uphill battle.
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