Polk Dems Leadership
Crime & Justice
Iowa Republican leaders talk tough regarding safety in Des Moines and the rest of the state, but their budgets continuously cut funding for first responder programs, equipment and staff.
The safety of our communities and support for our law enforcement professionals and their work within communities across Polk County will always be a top priority for Iowa Democrats. We strongly support providing the sensible equipment and resources needed by law enforcement in order to ensure that Des Moines and all of Polk County remains a community safe from violence.
VICTIMS DESERVE MORE THAN PRAYERS, THEY DESERVE ACTION.
For the innocent victims and survivors of crime, Democrats support them with more than prayers. We support resources that help them and their families work through the long-term, emotional consequences of crime. The Democrat-supported crime victim services program funds counseling, shelter, and other support services that many people, especially women and children, need when the terror of crime strikes.
While we support the 2nd amendment right to bear arms, we also believe in the rights of everyday Iowans to live an environment free of military-grade weapons whose sole purpose is to be used as a weapon of war. Iowa Democrats believe in responsible gun ownership, and believe gun owners should be held responsible for how their guns are stored and kept.
Iowa Democrats are proud of the way young people across the country from all walks of life have mobilized to share their story and demand justice for victims and survivors of gun violence. We stand with them and support them in their right to tell their story and demand answers for why this type of violence happens. We refuse to simply dismiss these incidents of violence as unpreventable.
INCARCERATION SHOULD NOT BE A FOR-PROFIT BUSINESS.
With Democrats and activists across the U.S., Iowa Democrats are committed to reforming our criminal justice system and ending mass incarceration. Something is profoundly wrong when almost a quarter of the world’s prison population is in the United States, even though our country has less than five percent of the world’s population. We must closely look at the root causes of these issues - reactionary measures taken against the high crime rates of the 1970s and 1980s, the disproportionate amount of people of color who are part of the prison population, and the harsh sentences laid out for nonviolent offenses, to understand the best way to move forward as a society.
We are proud that Iowa is free of privatized prisons, and vow to work to reform mandatory minimum sentences and work with those are doing their best to close private prisons and detention centers. Research and evidence, rather than slogans and sound bites, must guide criminal justice policies.
REBUILD RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN THE COMMUNITY AND LAW ENFORCEMENT.
We will work with police chiefs to invest in training for officers on issues such as de-escalation and the creation of national guidelines for the appropriate use of force in our local communities. We will encourage better police-community relations, require the use of body cameras, and stop the use of weapons of war that have no place in our communities. We will end racial profiling that targets individuals solely on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin, which is un-American and counterproductive. This means also taking a close look at how our institutions in Iowa faring, not dismissing patterns of profiles emerging locally.
Instead of investing in more jails and incarceration, we need to invest more in jobs and education and end the school-to-prison pipeline, which is not only demoralizing to young people and our most vulnerable but also an unnecessary burden is taken on by taxpayers.
The “war on drugs” has been an abject failure and has led to the imprisonment of millions of Americans, disproportionately people of color, without reducing drug use. Whenever possible, Democrats will prioritize prevention and treatment over incarceration when tackling addiction and substance use disorder. We will build on effective models of drug courts, veterans’ courts, and other diversionary programs that seek to give nonviolent offenders opportunities for rehabilitation as opposed to incarceration.
Because of conflicting federal and state laws concerning marijuana, we encourage the federal government to be more farsighted rather than reactionary, and remove marijuana from the list of “Schedule 1” federal controlled substance and to appropriately regulate it, providing a path towards legalization which also could be an opportunity for positive impact on local economies.
SUPPORT REHABILITATION AND END THE DEATH PENALTY.
Democrats will work to abolish the death penalty, which has proven to be a cruel and unusual form of punishment no matter what form it takes. It has also proven to be applied in an arbitrary and unjust manner again and again. It has no place in the United States of America or Iowa, and Iowa Democrats will work hard to make sure the death penalty remains abolished in Iowa as it has since 1965. The cost to taxpayers far exceeds those of life imprisonment. It does not deter crime and exonerations show a dangerous lack of reliability for what is an irreversible punishment.
When a felon has served their punishment in full, we believe it is in society's best interest to allow them to be reintroduced into the community, with their basic right to vote restores restored without a capricious and difficult to navigate process, which Iowa’s method most definitely is.
The punitive and unnecessary rescission of Governor Vilsack’s 2005 order to restore voting rights to convicted felons who had served their time and their debt in 2011 by Terry Branstad should be overturned.
Iowa Democrats also support dropping the checkbox on job applications inquiring whether a person was a convicted felon or not; this often stands in the way of a person being able to resume a normal life and invites more criminal behavior.
Learn more details about specific issues via the Polk County Democrat party platform.