Thanks to last month’s Supreme Court opinion in Brown v. Plata, every state in America now understands that California’s prison system is in chaos, operating at around 200% capacity. States, therefore, are taking a close look at their own prisons and taking action to ensure that they avoid a California-like fate. We wrote about Missouri’s efforts last week, and this week, we take a look at Iowa.
According to a recent article in the Quad-City Times Iowa’s state penitentiaries are currently operating at 123% of capacity, with 8,840 inmates in prisons that are designed to hold only 7,209. Iowans, however, have been proactive, and they are working to bring their incarceration numbers down before the courts do it for them. Parole releases have accelerated in recent months after the state filled a number of vacancies on the parole board, and courts have embraced cheaper, more effective methods of alternative sentencing.
Although Iowa Attorney General William Hill ensured Iowans that a California-style mass-release is not on the horizon, the state recognized a potential problem, and is taking the appropriate steps to address it. We tip our hats to Iowa for their proactive measures, and strongly encourage them to keep up the good work.