Jake Porter, the Libertarian Party’s candidate for governor, was near the stage — in the audience — for last night’s televised debate between Republican Governor Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell.
“Criminal justice reform, mental health also things with the budget are just things that I would have talked about — in a very positive way,” Porter said during an interview with Radio Iowa. “We wouldn’t go negative against any one of the candidates or anything like that.”
Porter said criminal just reform deserves more than just a passing mention in the 2018 campaign.
“There’s about 40,000 to 50,000 Iowans that have served their time, paid for their crime. They need to have their voting rights restored,” Porter said. “At one point they did, now they no longer have their voting rights restored.”
In 2005, Governor Tom Vilsack issued an executive order that automatically restored voting rights to felons who had completed their prison time, probation and parole. In 2011, Governor Terry Branstad cancelled that. Felons who’ve completed their sentences must apply — now — to Governor Reynolds and prove fines and restitution have been or are being paid to get their voting rights restored.
Porter said just because he and the other candidates for governor “aren’t impacted personally by criminal justice issues” doesn’t mean the issues should be ignored.
“Currently our prisons are over-capacity. In like seven to eight years, they’re going to be at 142 percent of capacity. The state doesn’t have money to build new prisons, for example, so we have to make decisions: ‘Who are we going to let out?’ It costs $32,000 or so a year to put somebody in prison when it’s a lot cheaper just to treat the addiction and then if we look at people who are addicted, a lot of time they’re afraid to get help,” Porter told Radio Iowa. “They’re afraid their kids are going to get taken away from them. They could lose their jobs. They could go to jail for it.”
Porter argued it’s time to classify addiction as a health issue rather than a crime issue.
Porter runs a marketing and business consulting agency in Council Bluffs. A Des Moines Register Iowa Poll conducted last month found Porter had the support of seven percent of likely voters.