The head of the state’s prison system says in the past decade, Iowa is one of just two states in the country where there’s been an increase in homicides, robberies, rapes and aggravated assaults. Iowa Department of Corrections director Jerry Bartruff today said at the same time, the number of paroled prisoners who commit another violent crime is “creeping up.”
“So if you see an increase of crime in the community and an increase in crime of people that have been returned to the community, that tells me that we’ve got something that we need to do differently,” Bartruff said.
Bartruff said Iowa remains ‘fairly safe” and this data is “somewhat skewed” as percentage increases “look huge” because Iowa’s population and crime rate is small. However, the prison director said while there was a 10 percent decline in violent crime in Iowa cities with more than 50,000 residents last year, there was a 50 percent increase in violent crime in Iowa cities with fewer than 10,000 residents.
“We think that we can be part of the solution, but this data us to say: ‘We’ve got to do something,'” Bartruff said.
Eighteen years ago, the Iowa Department of Corrections began collecting data on prisoners behind bars and those who’d been released. Bartruff says in 2015, the data analysis was ramped up, to come up with a more precise reading on which prisoners are the best candidates for parole. The “ultimate goal,” Bartruff said “is an Iowa with no more victims.”
“…We think with the things that we’re doing now…in 2027 we believe we can see a a reduced prison population, we can see recidivism reduced, we can criminal justice costs lowered and we can see a safer Iowa,” Bartruff said today. “That’s where we want to go.”
There are nearly 8,300 inmates inside Iowa prisons today. About 20,000 people are on probation, with nearly 4,000 others being regularly monitored by a parole officer. Bartruff’s agency is also monitoring about 1,700 people who are awaiting a criminal trial.