We strive to ensure that our state’s prisons and jails comply with the Constitution, domestic law, and human rights principles.

More people are incarcerated in America than in any other country. Iowa is a part of the problem. The number of people behind bars on any given day surpasses the population of entire towns like Clive, Boone, and Oskaloosa. In fact, Iowa prisons are projected to be 43 percent over capacity within 10 years.

A culture of punishment, combined with racism and classism, means that conditions in Iowa jails and prisons often threaten people’s health, safety, and human dignity. Men, women, and children suffer as chronic illnesses go untreated, emergencies are ignored, and serious mental illnesses aren’t properly managed.

For some patients, lack of medical care turns a minor sentence into a death sentence. And practices like holding people in solitary confinement also hinders rehabilitation and exacerbates or even sparks mental illness. 

Prisoners also have the right to read, write, speak, practice their religion, and communicate with the outside world.

Learn more about how we protect prisoners’ rights.