Iowa lawmakers say they’ll provide up to eight million dollars more to enhance the state’s efforts in treating and monitoring sex offenders. In addition, Senator Larry McKibben says he’ll insist on a death penalty debate next week when the 50-member Senate considers legislation designed to get tough on those who commit sex crimes. “I think if you polled Iowans…by a strong majority they’d tell us to have the debate,” McKibben says. But Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs who is Co-Leader of the Senate, has said he’ll block McKibben’s attempt to debate the death penalty. “I guess what I’m asking him to do and what I hope Iowans ask Senator Gronstal…to do is allow us to have a debate and a discussion on this,” McKibben says. McKibben will propose a very limited death penalty for those convicted of two serious felonies — one of which must involve the murder of a child. “I have not had one person tell me that we shouldn’t be pushing for a debate on the death penalty for child killers in this state,” McKibben says. As for the spending connected to tougher laws for those who commit sex crimes, Senator Bob Dvorsky, a Democrat from Iowa City, says legislators have their eyes wide open and realize getting tough on sexual predators will cost the state money. “We’re not only going to talk the talk but walk the walk and put the money in there and the resources that are needed,” Dvorsky says. Senator Keith Kreiman, a Democrat from Bloomfield, says legislators are committed to ensuring sexual predators sentenced to prison go through a treatment program. “The better the treatment, the more effective the treatment, then frankly, the fewer victims,” Kreiman says. The discussion on the sex offender bill came today (Thursday) during a Senate subcommittee meeting. Senator Chuck Larson, a Republican from Cedar Rapids, says a task force will be formed to review Iowa’s sex offender treatment program, the Sex Offender Registry and other related matters. “It’s a very, very difficult subject and the committee has been extremely cautious in how we’ve approached these issues because the fact of the matter is if it’s not drafted properly, legal loopholes can be created that would result in the whole law being struck down,” Larson says.
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