Bill Text: IA HF2433 | 2019-2020 | 88th General Assembly | Introduced


Bill Title: A bill for an act creating a life imprisonment review committee to recommend commutation or reconsideration of a sentence of a class "A" felon serving a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Spectrum: Moderate Partisan Bill (Republican 8-2)

Status: (Introduced) 2020-02-19 - Subcommittee Meeting: 02/20/2020 8:00AM House Lounge. [HF2433 Detail]

Download: Iowa-2019-HF2433-Introduced.html
House File 2433 - Introduced HOUSE FILE 2433 BY BAXTER , HINSON , A. MEYER , MITCHELL , McKEAN , KAUFMANN , WOLFE , OSMUNDSON , OLSON , and GASSMAN A BILL FOR An Act creating a life imprisonment review committee to 1 recommend commutation or reconsideration of a sentence of 2 a class “A” felon serving a sentence of life imprisonment 3 without the possibility of parole. 4 BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA: 5 TLSB 5543YH (8) 88 hf/rh
H.F. 2433 Section 1. Section 902.1, subsection 1, Code 2020, is 1 amended to read as follows: 2 1. Upon a plea of guilty, a verdict of guilty, or a special 3 verdict upon which a judgment of conviction of a class “A” 4 felony may be rendered, the court shall enter a judgment of 5 conviction and shall commit the defendant into the custody of 6 the director of the Iowa department of corrections for the rest 7 of the defendant’s life. Nothing Except as otherwise provided 8 in section 902.4A, nothing in the Iowa corrections code 9 pertaining to deferred judgment, deferred sentence, suspended 10 sentence, or reconsideration of sentence applies to a class 11 “A” felony , and a person . A defendant convicted of a class 12 “A” felony shall not be released on parole unless , pursuant 13 to a recommendation from the Iowa board of parole pursuant to 14 section 902.2 or from the life imprisonment review committee 15 created pursuant to section 902.2A, the governor commutes the 16 defendant’s sentence to a term of years or a district court 17 reconsiders the defendant’s sentence and the district court 18 resentences the defendant into the custody of the director of 19 the department of corrections for the rest of the defendant’s 20 life with the possibility of parole . 21 Sec. 2. Section 902.2, Code 2020, is amended to read as 22 follows: 23 902.2 Commutation procedure for class “A” felons. 24 A person who has been sentenced to life imprisonment under 25 section 902.1 may, no more frequently than once every ten 26 years, unless recommended by the life imprisonment review 27 committee, make an application to the governor requesting that 28 the person’s sentence be commuted to a term of years. The 29 director of the Iowa department of corrections may make a 30 request to the governor that a person’s sentence be commuted 31 to a term of years at any time. Upon receipt of a request for 32 commutation, the governor shall send a copy of the request to 33 the Iowa board of parole for investigation and recommendations 34 as to whether the person should be considered for commutation. 35 -1- LSB 5543YH (8) 88 hf/rh 1/ 8
H.F. 2433 The board shall conduct an interview of the class “A” felon and 1 shall make a report of its findings and recommendations to the 2 governor. 3 Sec. 3. NEW SECTION . 902.2A Life imprisonment review 4 committee. 5 1. For the purposes of this section, “defendant” means a 6 person convicted of a class “A” felony and sentenced to life 7 imprisonment without the possibility of parole. 8 2. A life imprisonment review committee is established. 9 The purpose of the committee shall be to make commutation 10 recommendations to the governor or reconsideration of sentence 11 recommendations to the district court regarding class “A” 12 felons sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility 13 of parole. Upon a defendant’s application and upon review 14 of the facts and circumstances of the defendant’s case, 15 the committee may first recommend to the governor that the 16 defendant’s sentence be commuted to a term of years and may, 17 if the governor does not take action on the recommendation, 18 subsequently recommend the defendant’s sentence be reconsidered 19 by the appropriate district court as provided in section 20 902.4A. Notwithstanding any other provision of the law to 21 the contrary, and after receiving the recommendation of the 22 committee, the governor may commute the defendant’s sentence 23 to a term of years or the district court may resentence the 24 defendant to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole. 25 3. a. The governor shall appoint members to the committee 26 which may include but are not limited to representatives 27 from victim advocacy groups, the Iowa state chapter of the 28 national association for the advancement of colored people or 29 other equivalent organizations that benefit racial or ethnic 30 minorities, community-based organizations as defined in section 31 7D.15, organizations focused on the reentry of incarcerated 32 individuals, the department of workforce development, the 33 department of public safety, the office of the attorney 34 general, and a judicial district department of correctional 35 -2- LSB 5543YH (8) 88 hf/rh 2/ 8
H.F. 2433 services. Members may also include county attorneys, law 1 enforcement officers, retired judges, prison officials, prison 2 counselors, and clergy. 3 b. Members shall serve four-year terms except for the terms 4 of the initial members, which shall be staggered so that two of 5 the members’ terms expire each calendar year. 6 4. A defendant may file an application to the life 7 imprisonment review committee for commutation of the 8 defendant’s sentence or resentencing. A defendant shall not 9 be eligible to have the defendant’s application reviewed by 10 the committee until the defendant has served a minimum of 11 twenty-five years of the defendant’s life sentence. 12 5. The life imprisonment review committee may conduct a 13 hearing to determine whether to recommend the defendant for 14 commutation of the defendant’s sentence or resentencing. The 15 committee shall consider the following factors in determining 16 whether to recommend the defendant for commutation or 17 resentencing: 18 a. The defendant must have successfully progressed to a 19 minimum security facility or a facility with an equivalent 20 status. 21 b. The defendant must have accumulated a verifiable list 22 of accomplishments in prison, which may include education, 23 apprenticeships, certifications, trades, prison service 24 achievements, and participation in rehabilitative and 25 restorative justice programs and other programs designed to 26 promote behavior change and to prepare offenders for successful 27 reentry into the community. 28 c. The defendant’s case file demonstrates that the defendant 29 shows respect for authority and has been deemed a positive 30 influence on others. 31 d. The defendant’s application is supported by a 32 recommendation or recommendations for review from one or more 33 of any of the following persons: 34 (1) The director of the department of corrections. 35 -3- LSB 5543YH (8) 88 hf/rh 3/ 8
H.F. 2433 (2) The chairperson of the Iowa board of parole. 1 (3) The warden from a prison where the defendant has been 2 incarcerated for at least three consecutive years. 3 (4) A work supervisor. 4 6. The life imprisonment review committee may deny 5 the defendant’s application or recommend the defendant to 6 the governor for commutation of the defendant’s sentence. 7 The governor may commute the defendant’s sentence of life 8 imprisonment without parole to a sentence of life imprisonment 9 with the possibility of parole based on information presented 10 to the life imprisonment review committee, notwithstanding the 11 commutation procedures in section 902.2. The governor shall 12 notify a registered victim pursuant to section 915.18. If the 13 life imprisonment review committee recommends a defendant to 14 the governor, the governor may grant the commutation, deny the 15 commutation, or take no action. 16 7. If the governor does not take action on a recommendation 17 from the life imprisonment review committee within three 18 months, the life imprisonment review committee shall make the 19 recommendation to the district court for reconsideration of the 20 defendant’s sentence in the county that originally sentenced 21 the defendant pursuant to section 902.4A. 22 8. A defendant whose life sentence has been commuted or 23 who has been resentenced shall be placed on the corrections 24 continuum in chapter 901B, and the terms and conditions of 25 parole, including violations, shall be subject to the same set 26 of procedures specified in chapters 906 and 908, and rules 27 adopted under those chapters for persons on parole. 28 9. A defendant denied commutation and resentencing may 29 submit a new application to the life imprisonment review 30 committee every four years. 31 10. This section shall not preclude the Iowa board of parole 32 from making recommendations as to whether a defendant should be 33 considered for commutation pursuant to section 902.2. 34 Sec. 4. NEW SECTION . 902.4A Reconsideration of class “A” 35 -4- LSB 5543YH (8) 88 hf/rh 4/ 8
H.F. 2433 felon sentence. 1 1. Upon recommendation of the life imprisonment review 2 committee, the district court in the county that originally 3 sentenced a defendant convicted of a class “A” felony shall set 4 a hearing to reconsider the defendant’s sentence. The district 5 court shall provide notice to any registered victim and the 6 county attorney of any county in this state where a conviction 7 occurred. 8 2. Upon recommendation from the life imprisonment review 9 committee, the court shall conduct a hearing to consider any 10 evidence deemed appropriate by the court including but not 11 limited to all of the following: 12 a. The circumstances of the underlying crime. 13 b. Input from a victim. 14 c. The defendant’s accomplishments in prison, which may 15 include education, apprenticeships, certifications, trades, 16 prison service achievements, rehabilitative and restorative 17 justice programs, and other programs designed to promote 18 behavior change and to prepare all eligible offenders for 19 successful reentry into the community. 20 d. The defendant’s disciplinary record in prison. 21 e. Any recommendations, including but not limited to 22 recommendations from the director of the department of 23 corrections, the chairperson of the Iowa board of parole, the 24 warden from a prison where the defendant has been incarcerated 25 for at least three consecutive years, or a work supervisor. 26 f. The defendant’s prior convictions and periods of 27 incarceration, if any. 28 g. The age of the defendant and the defendant’s chances of 29 reoffending. 30 h. The family and community supports of the defendant. 31 i. The defendant’s employment background. 32 3. Upon the conclusion of the hearing, the district court 33 may resentence the defendant to a term of years with the 34 possibility of parole if the court finds all of the following 35 -5- LSB 5543YH (8) 88 hf/rh 5/ 8
H.F. 2433 by clear and convincing evidence: 1 a. The defendant no longer poses a threat to the community. 2 b. Based on the defendant’s conduct during incarceration, 3 the defendant has proven the defendant can be a contributing 4 member of society. 5 c. It is in the best interests of the community that 6 the defendant be resentenced to a term of years with the 7 possibility of parole. 8 4. The court’s decision to resentence the defendant under 9 this section is not subject to appeal. 10 EXPLANATION 11 The inclusion of this explanation does not constitute agreement with 12 the explanation’s substance by the members of the general assembly. 13 Under current law, a defendant convicted of a class “A” 14 felony is committed into the custody of the director of the 15 Iowa department of corrections for the rest of the defendant’s 16 life without the possibility of parole, and the defendant 17 cannot be considered for a deferred judgment, suspended 18 sentence, or reconsideration of the defendant’s sentence. This 19 bill creates a life imprisonment review committee to recommend 20 commutation or reconsideration of a sentence of a class “A” 21 felon serving a sentence of life imprisonment without the 22 possibility of parole. 23 The bill provides that the life imprisonment review 24 committee members may include representatives from certain 25 stakeholder groups as well as state agencies, and a member from 26 a judicial district department of correctional services. 27 Under the bill, a defendant is eligible to file an 28 application to the life imprisonment review committee if the 29 defendant has served at least 25 years of the defendant’s 30 life sentence. The life imprisonment review committee has 31 discretion to hold a hearing on the defendant’s application. 32 The bill lists numerous factors for the life imprisonment 33 review committee to consider before recommending commutation 34 or reconsideration of a defendant’s sentence. After a review 35 -6- LSB 5543YH (8) 88 hf/rh 6/ 8
H.F. 2433 of the facts and circumstances of a defendant’s case, the life 1 imprisonment review committee shall either deny the defendant’s 2 application or recommend the defendant for commutation of the 3 defendant’s sentence to the governor. 4 The life imprisonment review committee may recommend to 5 the governor that a defendant’s sentence be commuted to a 6 sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole 7 based on information presented to the life imprisonment review 8 committee. The bill does not change any existing commutation 9 procedures once the recommendation to the governor is made by 10 the committee. If the governor does not act on the committee’s 11 recommendation within three months, the life imprisonment 12 review committee shall make the recommendation to the district 13 court for reconsideration of the defendant’s sentence in the 14 county that originally sentenced the defendant. 15 The bill provides that the district court in the county 16 that originally sentenced the defendant may review the court’s 17 previous action and reaffirm the sentence or resentence the 18 defendant to a life sentence with the possibility of parole, 19 pursuant to new Code section 902.4A. The district court shall 20 hold a hearing relating to reconsideration of the defendant’s 21 sentence and shall provide notice to a registered victim. 22 The bill provides factors for the court to consider in 23 deciding to resentence a defendant. The bill provides that a 24 district court may resentence a defendant to a term of years 25 with the possibility of parole if the court finds by clear and 26 convincing evidence that the defendant no longer poses a threat 27 to the community, can be a contributing member of society, and 28 it is in the best interests of the community that the defendant 29 be resentenced. 30 A defendant who is recommended by the life imprisonment 31 review committee and given a commutation or resentencing is 32 eligible for parole subject to the same set of procedures 33 as any other defendant regarding parole. If a defendant’s 34 application to the life sentence review committee is denied, 35 -7- LSB 5543YH (8) 88 hf/rh 7/ 8
H.F. 2433 the defendant may submit a new application every four years. 1 For the purposes of the bill, “defendant” is defined as a 2 person convicted of a class “A” felony and sentenced to life 3 imprisonment without the possibility of parole. 4 -8- LSB 5543YH (8) 88 hf/rh 8/ 8
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