The head of the Iowa Department of Corrections briefed Gov. Reynolds today on an increase in violent crime in the state that he called shocking.
Statistics from a national survey show that from 2006 through 2016, Iowa was one of only two states in the country where the incidence increased for all four categories of violent crime, including homicide, robbery, rape, and aggravated assault.
At the same time, the recidivism rate is on the rise for perpetrators of violent crime.
“So if you see an increase in crime in the community and an increase in crime of people returned to the community, that tells me that we've got something that we need to do differently, said DOC Director Jerry Bartruff, addressing Governor Reynolds and a panel of budget advisors. "We've got to do something."
Bartruff said methamphetamine abuse over the years of the survey may be one cause for the increase.
“I think there's multiple factors,” Bartruff said. “I think that because we're fairly safe in Iowa, that any kind of increase, the percentage looks huge.”
Bartfruff described a decrease in violent crime in Iowa’s larger towns last year, but an increase in rural communities.
The department implemented a more data-driven approach to reducing recidivism in 2015. Bartruff predicted that would bring crime trends down over the next ten years.
“In 2027 we believe we can see a reduced prison population, we can see recidivism reduced, we can see criminal justice costs lowered, and we can see a safer Iowa," Bartruff said.
In Iowa’s correctional system today, there are nearly 8,300 inmates inside Iowa prisons and another 20,000 on probation.