The ACLU of Iowa released a report in 2019 that outlined how Iowa could cut in half the number of incarcerated people by pursuing reforms to its criminal legal system. The solutions included decriminalizing drug possession across the state, restricting the use of cash bail, and enacting parole reform to expand access to early release. Read more.
Civil Forfeiture Laws
Along with partner organizations, we are fighting for legislation that would reform civil forfeiture, which allows police to seize, keep, and sell any property they allege is involved in a crime. Right now, Iowa law outlines that property valued at less than $5,000 cannot be taken without a criminal conviction first. We would like a conviction to always be required before seizing assets of any value and the removal of profit incentives for law enforcement.
Racial Disparities in Marijuana Arrests
A Black person in Iowa is 7.3 times more likely to be arrested than a white person for marijuana possession, even though both groups use marijuana at about the same rate, according to this ACLU report.
Racial Profiling and Discriminatory Policing
Along with partner organizations, we are fighting for statewide anti-racial profiling legislation that bans racial profiling, bans pretextual stops, requires data collection and analysis, creates an advisory board, and requires annual training for law enforcement.
The ACLU is working with local law enforcement and advocacy groups, such as the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, and others to make sure that body camera footage is available to the public in cases that warrant it, such as the Autumn Steele case. We also want to see good policies and laws in place to protect the privacy of individuals. Find out more.
Reforms for Taser Policies
We made recommendations for uniform, statewide taser use policies in 2014. Tasers have become widespread tools for police officers in Iowa. However, tasers are still dangerous weapons that can cause excruciating pain and, in some cases, serious or fatal injuries.