Iowa Oversight Committee on Justice Reinvestment Reviews Final Results of Assessment of Pandemic-Related Changes

October 17, 2022

On October 12, 2022, the Iowa Oversight Committee on Justice Reinvestment met for the third and final time to review the results and data-driven recommendations from a comprehensive supervision assessment. This assessment—conducted by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center—included extensive analyses of community supervision practices, public safety impacts, and racial disproportionalities within the state’s community-based corrections (CBC) system.

CSG Justice Center staff members have been working with Iowa state leaders and stakeholders to answer the following questions:

  1. Did changes that were implemented in March 2020 have a positive, negative, or neutral impact on public safety and CBC operations?
  2. Should Iowa continue and/or enhance these new procedures to increase officers’ ability to successfully supervise individuals in the community?
  3. Do the Iowa Department of Corrections and CBC need any specific resources to successfully supervise individuals in the community?
  4. What data-driven recommendations can maximize potential benefits and resources to improve success for clients in the community?

Key findings from the public safety and racial disproportionality analyses include the following:

  • Case-level data do not indicate a statistically significant shift in violent crime after March 2020 among clients on community supervision. This finding holds across all measures of violent crime used in the analysis. There was some variation by judicial district, but few districts experienced statistically significant changes.
  • There is substantial racial disproportionality in the CBC client population compared to the general population in the state as a whole—particularly with Black and American Indian clients as compared to White clients. Across parole, probation, and work release, Black clients are 5.1 times more likely to be on supervision than White clients, while American Indian clients are 3 times more likely to be on supervision than White clients.
  • Black people on community supervision are 9 percent more likely to be revoked and 31 percent less likely to be referred to external interventions when compared to White clients with similar criminal histories and demographics.

Key findings from the assessment of Iowa’s CBC system include the following:

  • CBC agencies adapted quickly to the public health crisis and implemented several practice changes, including participating in virtual court and revocation hearings, convening virtual treatment groups, implementing virtual client contacts, and expanding the practice of reviewing recommendations for supervision revocations to limit the number of people returning to prisons and jails.
  • CBC staff identified challenges with these changes, including that some feel they no longer have the discretion to recommend revocation when they view it as an appropriate response to client behavior.
  • CBC staff also reported positive outcomes of these changes, including higher client participation and completion rates in programs, increased access to job opportunities and training for clients, and increased flexibility for staff as a result of new remote work options.
  • Revocations after March 2020 were linked to approximately 25 percent more public safety threat violations indicating that the use of revocations has focused more on addressing public safety concerns.
  • Criminal justice stakeholders across the state consistently identified a lack of community-based behavioral health treatment providers to meet the needs of the population.

 

More information about the analyses, results, and recommendations can be found here. This work is part of Iowa’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) effort, which officially launched in February 2022. JRI is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

 

This project was supported by Grant No. 2019-ZB-BX-K002 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

About the authors


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Greg Halls
Senior Policy Analyst, State Initiatives
Greg Halls provides project management for state-based teams and assists in policy research, analysis, and technical assistance activities for states undergoing the Justice Reinvestment process. In his previous role as a policy analyst on the economic mobility team, he provided
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technical assistance (on- and off-site) to Department of Corrections and tribal grantees in Delaware, Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, Texas, and Navajo Nation for increasing the employability of individuals impacted by the criminal justice system. Additionally, Greg conducted the IRES Pilot Process Evaluation and co-authored the “Integrating Reentry and Employment Strategies (IRES) Pilot Project: Process Evaluation Report.” Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, Greg was a project-research assistant at the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice at Policy Research Associates. As a program associate, he provided technical assistance to nine pilot sites implementing a mental health model in the juvenile justice realm. Greg also coordinated and evaluated juvenile justice trainings delivered to CIT trained professionals and juvenile probation, detention, and corrections professionals. He earned his MA in criminal justice and research from SUNY University at Albany’s School of Criminal Justice.
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    Brenna Callahan
    Senior Media Relations Manager, Communications and External Affairs
    Brenna Callahan drives strategic media relations and public affairs to advance organization-wide initiatives. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, Brenna managed national communications for a civic engagement nonprofit. She previously developed and managed a communications and economic equity policy
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    portfolio for Mayor Marty Walsh’s Office of Women’s Advancement at the City of Boston. Brenna also worked in both development and operations roles at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, where she managed agency-wide programming. Brenna earned a BA in English from Boston College and an MPA at Suffolk University.
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