September 30, 2022

Letter to the Editor: An unjust decision

As a member of the League of Women Voters of Iowa, I have concern about an issue that the LWVIA Criminal Justice Committee has reviewed.

Since 2005 the League of Women Voters of Iowa has supported the following statement in its Sentencing and Corrections Position:

“The League of Women Voters of Iowa supports a justice that is fair and protects the public safety. LWVIA believes that mandatory sentencing has had an adverse impact on Iowa’s justice and corrections systems. This adverse impact could be reduced by providing greater flexibility for judges, the Iowa Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Iowa Board of Parole to consider unique circumstances in criminal cases while sentencing standards in the Iowa Code remain applicable.”

We believe that the recent State v. Lewis case, which involved a fifteen-year-old who killed her trafficker and who was assessed a $150,000 restitution amount under a mandatory provision of the law, highlights an instance in which that mandatory provision works an obvious injustice.

Perhaps one way to introduce appropriate judicial discretion into cases analogous to State v. Lewis would be to allow judges to consider culpability of the deceased in the context of all the circumstances of the case when assessing any victim restitution for the offense.

Sincerely,

Bonnie Pitz

President of the Jasper County League of Women Voters