Gov. Reynolds announces formation of Governor’s Working Group on Criminal Justice Reform

Governor Kim Reynolds

DES MOINES –  Today, Governor Kim Reynolds announced the formation of the Governor’s FOCUS Committee on Criminal Justice Reform (Fueling Ongoing Collaboration and Uncovering Solutions). The working group will build on the governor’s efforts over the last year to reduce criminal behavior and afford individuals a second chance.

“Iowans recognize the power of redemption and second chances, which is why I have made criminal justice reform a key priority for my administration,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Today’s announcement builds on our efforts to reduce recidivism by eliminating barriers to successful re-entry. I appreciate the partnership with NAACP and look forward to bringing a diverse, talented group of stakeholders together to take our criminal justice reform to the next level.”

Gov. Reynolds selected Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, a former State Public Defender, to serve as the group’s chairman. The group’s other members will be announced in the coming weeks.

“As a former state public defender, I will aim to bring a unique perspective to the Governor’s FOCUS Committee and I look forward to chairing these efforts,” said Lt. Gov. Gregg. “We have taken positive steps over the past few years, and now we are poised to do even more to reduce recidivism and build a culture of reform and continuous improvement in our criminal justice system.”

The governor made the announcement at the 7th Annual Iowa Summit on Justice & Disparities, sponsored by the NAACP. The committee is charged with making recommendations to the Governor on ways to reduce recidivism through successful offender reentry and continuously strive for an unbiased criminal justice system. By December of this year, the FOCUS committee will make recommendations to reduce recidivism through successful offender re-entry. This will form the foundation of a package of legislative proposals aimed at advancing our “2nd chance” initiative this year.

Over the course of 2020,  the committee will also take up the very complex issue of unbiased criminal justice in Iowa, looking at the full range of issues including policing, prosecution, and corrections practices.

These efforts will build on the governor’s criminal justice reform strategy from 2019. Reynolds will continue to call for a constitutional amendment to restore felons’ right to vote after they have completed their sentences. Reynolds is also encouraging employers and human resources managers to attend two Employer and Reentry Breakfast Roundtable being held this year to learn about the employment opportunities available with formerly incarcerated individuals. The first one will take place at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville on Nov. 6 at 8:00 a.m.