Zach Nunn

The Iowa House has passed legislation that toughens prison sentences for those convicted of abusing a domestic partner. Representative Zach Nunn of Bondurant said it’s time to “elevate” the punishment and rehabilitation for “habitual” domestic abusers.

“We will not be able to end violence in Iowa against women, men and partners,” Nunn said, “but we can make a first step in providing the clarity, the ability of a survivor to have some space and opportunity to recover after habitual offenders consistently attack and violate the law.”

Representative Marti Anderson of Des Moines was the long-time director of the state’s Crime Victim Assistance Program.

“While I agree that there needs to be a time-out for the victim in a domestic abuse case, I’m not convinced that being in prison changes the abuser,” Anderson said.

The bill would let the Parole Board order that a convicted abuser wear a GPS tracking device after they’re released from prison. Representative Ras Smith of Waterloo said the bill shows legislators are “standing up” for some of the state’s most vulnerable victims.

“While this may not be definite solution to the problem, I believe that this should be and can be a catalyst towards progress in protecting victims of domestic abuse,” Smith said.

Someone convicted three different times of domestic abuse assault would have to spend at least three years in prison if the bill becomes law. The bill passed the House on a 90-8 vote. There’s similar legislation ready for debate in the Iowa Senate.