Bills that seek to reform Iowa’s sentencing laws — with the goal of reducing Iowa’s prison population — have cleared committees in the House and Senate. Representative Gene Maddox, a republican lawyer from Clive, supports the idea of paroling some prisoners convicted of non-violent property crimes. Maddox says it probably won’t keep the state from building a new prison, though. Sentencing reform is opposed by many legislators, including Republican Representative Clel Baudler, a retired state trooper. He says he feels it’s their job to represent the victims, the victims that offenders see as nothing but prey.Republican Representative Joseph Hutter, a retired cop from Bettendorf, says it’s time to do away with parts of the state’s “manditory sentencing law” which specifies the time inmates must serve for certain convictions.The House Judiciary Committee’s bill reduces the sentence for those convicted of possessing crack cocaine to make the punishment equal to the sentence for a like amount of powder cocaine. Representative Deborah Berry, a democrat from Waterloo, says that addresses a concern of black Iowans.The Senate Judiciary Committee’s bill would change the state law restricting where paroled sex offenders may live. Current law says they can’t live ithin 2000 feet of a school or daycare. The bill would reduce that zone to a quarter of a mile, as released sex offenders say they are finding it difficult to find places to live.
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