Fighting to end mass incarceration

We released a report documenting why mass incarceration must end. Conditions in Iowa's overcrowded jails and prisons threaten people’s health, safety, and human dignity. This harmful phenomenon also damages communities and wastes taxpayer dollars.

Supporting civil forfeiture reform

We strongly support further reforms to civil forfeiture, which allows police to seize, keep, and sell any property they allege is involved in a crime. In 2017, along with partner organizations, we worked to change Iowa law, so that property valued at less than $5,000 cannot be taken without a criminal conviction first. That was a good first step in preventing so many instances of “policing for profit” but the law needs to be changed to a conviction always being required before seizing assets of any value. Otherwise, there is still too much of an incentive for law enforcement to profit from wrongly seizing people's property, including vehicles and cash.

Exposing racial disparities in marijuana arrests

We documented that Iowa consistently ranks as one of the worst states in the country for racial disparities in marijuana arrests. As of 2018, a Black person is 7.3 times more likely to be arrested for drugs than a white person even though both groups use the drug at about the same rate.

Preventing racial profiling

Along with partner organizations, we are advocating against racial profiling and discriminatory policing. We believe it’s past time to pass meaningful state-wide legislation to stop racial profiling.

Fighting for police accountability

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.

Recommended taser policy reforms

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.