Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Iowa: Record of Recent Governors

Data Gathered by The Gazette
The Gazette reports "Iowa inmates serving life prison terms during the last 30 years are more than ten times less likely to see their sentences commuted than in the previous 38 years." More specifically:
From 1945 to 1983, Iowa governors commuted the sentences of an average 5.5 inmates a year, according to data provided by the Iowa Department of Corrections. Since 1983, lifers have seen only .4 commutations a year – or an average of one commutation every two to three years. 
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, has commuted the life prison terms of 2 inmates in 18 years in office. Former Gov. Chet Culver (D) also commuted 2 life sentences in 4 years. Former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) "commuted an average of one life sentence a year for his eight years in office." According to the Gazette:
Before this era, Iowa governors – Republicans and Democrats – were much more generous with commutations. Gov. Herschel C. Loveless, who served from 1957 to 1961, commuted the life prison terms of 46 inmates. But Gov. Leo Elthon holds the record – at least since 1945 — for commuting the most sentences in the shortest amount of time. He commuted the terms of 17 lifers from November 1954 to January 1955. 
See full story here.

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