A sentencing reform bill cleared the Iowa House yesterday, and it’s on its way to the Governor. The main change would allow prisoners who’ve served at least 70 percent of their sentence to be released on probation. That alters the state’s “truth in sentencing” law which requires inmates to serve at least 85 percent of their prison term. Representative Kevin McCarthy, a Democrat from Des Moines and former prosecutor, didn’t like it. McCarthy says it was supposed to be a sentencing reform bill, but it helps the six-and-a-half percent of prison inmates who are “rapists, murderers and kidnappers.” But most House members, like Representative Kurt Swaim, a Democrat from Bloomfield, voted for the bill. Swaim says something’s better than nothing. The bill will likely increase the state’s prison population by raising the penalty for selling or possessing powder cocaine so it’s the same as the penalty for crack.
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