116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa has made national news recently, unfortunately not for any of the great things happening across our state, but instead for the news about a restitution order imposed on a young woman after she fought back and killed her rapist. It is another example of the many mandatory minimums we have established in this country and across our state; judges are bound by law to enact minimum penalties tied to specific crimes rather than use their judgment in sentencing. These penalties were not put in place by the judicial system, but by legislatures, many times against the recommendations of prosecutors and judges, and allow for no exceptions - including defense or immunity for victims of human trafficking, kidnapping, or rape.
Mandatory minimums remove any consideration of the circumstances or the defendant’s history. Rather than risk going to trial, and if convicted spending a long time in prison, people accused of crimes often prefer to enter plea bargains, even when innocent, to avoid the threat of mandatory minimum sentences.
Legislatures created these scenarios, and legislatures can and should address these issues that have hurt too many Iowans. It's time to roll back relics of the failed War on Drugs, beginning with mandatory minimums - like the $150,000 restitution a young woman has to pay to the family of the man who repeatedly raped her.