Iowa Governor Vetoes Legislation to End Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Nonviolent Drug Offenders
On June 1, Iowa Governor Terry E. Branstad vetoed legislation that would end mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.
The House of Representatives passed H.F. (House File) 471 on March 21 by a vote of 97-0, and the Senate passed a companion bill on April 11, by 49-1 (Thomas A. Fogarty, "Senate Approves New State Sentencing Guidelines," Des Moines Register, Apr. 12, 1995, p. 6).
The bill would have allowed a judge to depart from a mandatory minimum in cases where a defendant did not possess a gun or commit assault in the course of the drug offense.
The bill also would have provided that those convicted of a second forcible felony serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before being eligible for parole or work release.
"The reality is that these crimes ["nonviolent" drug offenses] include the manufacture and sale of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine, the sale of drugs to minors, and the sale of drugs on school grounds," Branstad wrote in his letter of veto. "Leniency to persons involved in serious drug crimes sends the wrong message. ... There is a strong and proven correlation between drug use and crimes of all types. Nearly 80 percent of all crimes involve some form of drug use."
[For more information about these bills, contact Carl Olsen, P.O. Box 4091, Des Moines, Iowa 50333, 515-243-7351, firstname.lastname@example.org.]