For immediate release -- Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Contact Bob Brammer -- 515-281-6699.
Miller Proposes Criminal Laws for 2005
Attorney General Tom Miller today announced a series of proposed changes
in Iowa criminal laws he has submitted to the Iowa Legislature. In three
primary proposals, Miller proposes increased spending for drug treatment
to fight crime, a pilot grant program to enhance the efficiency of county
attorney offices, and the classification of pseudoephedrine as a "schedule
V" drug to fight the problem of meth labs. [Click here for link to
full description of the Attorney Generalís criminal law proposals.]
In his three main proposals, Miller called on the legislature to:
spending for drug treatment and prevention by $14 million. "There
is an overwhelming linkage between drugs and crime," he said. "To fight
drugs we need to do prosecution, prevention and treatment, and right
now the area where we are falling behind is treatment. It's the most
important thing we can do now to stem the state's methamphetamine problem
and fight all drug-related crime. This is a crucial and cost-effective
public safety measure."
The proposal would
provide increases in community-based treatment ($5 million); corrections
treatment ($2.5 million); drug courts ($3 million); jail programs ($2
million); the state training schools ($390,000); and prevention grants
- Establish a $300,000 pilot grant program to provide for the shared use of Assistant County Attorneys
among the smaller-population counties in Iowa, with the goal of enhancing efficiency through the use of
increased specialization and innovation.
- Classify any product containing pseudoephedrine as a "schedule V" drug as an important step to
discourage meth production in Iowa. The classification change would require that only pharmacists could
dispense pseudoephedrine, and that persons obtaining pseudoephedrine would have to show identification and
sign a logbook. It would not require a prescription. Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in making
methamphetamine. "When this proposal was adopted in Oklahoma it resulted in a dramatic drop in
methamphetamine labs," Miller said. "It is important for us to act now since meth labs are being found at a record
pace across Iowa. Meth labs represent a unique threat to law enforcement and the public, including children living
in meth homes, because of the potential for explosion, fire, and toxicity.
Miller also asked the Legislature to:
- Change the DNA statutes. DNA technology is increasingly vital to ensuring accuracy and fairness in the
criminal justice system. This bill would make corrective technical changes to the Iowa Code to keep Iowa up to
date. The changes, based on model DNA legislation proposed by the U.S. Justice Department, would codify the
establishment of the DNA database; strengthen uniform procedures to collect DNA samples; provide for
confidentiality procedures, and extend the statute of limitations for sexual abuse when DNA identifies a suspect.
- Strengthen the
definition of sexually violent predators. Miller proposed
to change Iowa law to clarify what qualifies as a predatory act in the
definition of a sexually violent predator. This change would make it
clear that the statute applies to stranger rapists as well as people
that establish a relationship with their victims. This bill also would
increase the penalty for escape or attempted escape from the Civil Commitment
Unit from a simple misdemeanor to a class "D" felony.
- Change post-conviction relief provisions. This bill
would bring the statute governing the availability of post-conviction
relief procedures into harmony with other provisions of the Iowa Code.
The bill would make post-conviction relief procedures available to a
person who has been convicted of an indictable offense, but close the
loophole which has allowed persons convicted of simple misdemeanors
to use post-conviction relief procedures to make repeated attacks on
their convictions. The proposal would conserve judicial resources and
make the post-conviction relief statute consistent with related statutes.
- Prohibit possession of firearms in domestic violence cases.
This bill would prohibit persons who
have been convicted of a domestic abuse assault, or who are currently
the subject of a pending domestic abuse no-contact order, from possessing
a firearm. Under current Iowa law, only felons are prohibited from possessing
The change would make state law consistent with federal law and
would address a significant problem. Since 1995, records indicate
124 Iowans have been killed in domestic abuse murders, including 16
children. Of these 124 murders, 74 men, women, and children were killed
by the use of a gun.
- Expand the criminal offense of possessing contraband in correctional
institutions to include possessing contraband in juvenile facilities.
Current law provides that it is a crime to bring contraband such as
knives or razors into jails or juvenile detention facilities, but not
to possess the contraband.
- Close a loophole that allows criminals to shield their pensions when they are ordered to pay restitution as
the result of a death from a felony. Under current law, if someone is convicted of a felony resulting in the death
of a victim, the court is required to order at least $150,000 in restitution to the victim's estate. However, under
Iowa law, pensions are exempted. This proposal would close that loophole.
- Strengthen Iowa law regarding strangling. This bill addresses the need to treat the act of strangulation more
consistently and as a serious offense. Under current law, if a perpetrator strangles a victim and no bodily injury
results, prosecutors could charge a wide range of crimes ranging from a simple misdemeanor assault to attempted
murder. This bill would clarify that such an act is a serious offense and provide that a person is guilty of a Class
"C" felony even if no bodily injury resulted.
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