Local jails may suffer under new federal prison reforms - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Local jails may suffer under new federal prison reforms

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

Senators in Washington unveiled legislation aimed at revamping our country's criminal justice system.

It would allow some non-violent drug offenders to receive reduced prison sentences to avoid overcrowding.

"When you're sentenced to prison, on a mandatory sentence, and the maximum, let's say is 35 years,” Senator Charles Grassley said. “If we don't change the law, you gotta serve that 35 years."

While it would be great for state and federal prisons, county sheriffs here in Iowa are concerned about the negative impact that could be felt in the local jails, considering their own issues with overcrowding.

"What it amounts to is we have more inmates than our capacity allows us to hold,” Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek said. “and so we continue to ship inmates out of county."

Pulkrabek is afraid his already overcrowded jail will feel the pinch.

"I think where it could potentially have an impact is less people going to prison or federal prison,” Pulkrabek said. “Because if the judge has the ability to sentence them to a county jail for a year or less, I think that would increase our sentence population."

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