NEVADA, Iowa — Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office is looking into Oklahoma’s huge inmate release this week to learn more about the process, the governor said during a stop Tuesday at a farm implement dealer.
Her comments followed a news conference where she used the backdrop of Van Wall Equipment in Nevada to celebrate apprenticeships.
On Monday in Oklahoma, 462 inmates detained for drug possession or non-violent crimes had their sentences commuted and went free as part of an effort by the Republican governor there the shake the state’s ranking as the highest incarceration rate in the nation.
In Iowa, Republican Reynolds earlier this year proposed giving felons who completed their sentences a “second chance” by automatically restoring their voting rights. The proposal ran into opposition in the Republican-controlled Legislature, but Reynolds said she’ll try again.
She also has empaneled a task force on criminal justice reform.
“There are a lot of states that are working on criminal justice reform, so let’s see what they’re doing, let’s see what makes sense for Iowa and take what they’ve done and adapt it to what we’re trying to do here in the state of Iowa,” she said Tuesday.
The task force is working on a two-part phase with a tight timeline, Reynolds said.
“I’ve asked for them to bring recommendations to me in December, so that’s a lot about recidivism and re-entry and making sure we’re setting them up to be successful,” Reynolds said. “The larger, or the second phase, will be a little bit more complex as we deal with just some of the biases in the system and how we can move forward through that.”
Victims will remain a focal point during the process, Reynolds said.
“We just need to make sure that its balanced and we never lose sight of the victims,” she said.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
During her visit to Central Iowa, Reynolds lauded apprenticeship opportunities in Iowa, signing a proclamation to declare next week as registered ‘Apprenticeship Week.’
As of Oct. 30, according to Reynolds, Iowa has nearly 750 active and registered apprenticeship programs and more than 7,600 apprentices. Additionally, Iowa has a total of 14 registered apprenticeship programs, “with more in the queue.”
According to Reynolds, 91 percent of those who complete an apprenticeship are still employed nine months later. The average starting salary for registered apprentices in Iowa is about $60,000 a year.