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Domestic Violence Often Omitted from Sentencing Reforms

On March 8, the Iowa House of Representatives passed a bill setting new mandatory minimum sentences in domestic violence cases. Those convicted of domestic violence three times must serve 85 percent of their sentences prior to release, regardless of their conduct while imprisoned. The Iowa Senate voted unanimously to adopt the law on April 6.

Legislators lauded the bill’s benefits for survivors of violence.

Those benefits, however, weren’t as clear to the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which opposed the provision. The coalition called the bill a well-intentioned but ultimately ineffective measure to prevent repeat domestic violence.

Social science research supports the coalition’s position. Increasing jail time generally has a minimal effect on recidivism. Researchers have found limited to no relationship between jail time and repeat violence in domestic violence cases.

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