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Justice System

Crime, Justice and Public Safety
10:15 am
Fri October 17, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court: "There's far more agreement than is commonly understood"

U.S. Supreme Court building
Jeff Kubina / flickr

Has the U.S. Supreme Court become a partisan institution? According to polls, many Americans think so.

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Politics Day
5:07 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Decisions by Default: U.S. Supreme Court Stays Quiet on Same-Sex Marriage

U.S. Supreme Court Building
Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to take up any of the cases before them involving same-sex marriage.

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Statehouse and Politics
6:25 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Iowa Lawmakers Expect Early Legislative Adjournment

Credit John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa legislative calendar has the last day of the 2014 session falling late next month. Last week Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, said Iowa Republicans and Democrats have gotten better working together.

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Juvenile Home Spat
5:08 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Parties Spar Over Juvenile Home Bill

Credit Photo by Dean Borg

On a strict party line vote, the Iowa Senate  approved a Democratic bill calling for a facility for delinquent girls in Iowa comparable to the boy’s facility in Eldora.  But  Republicans say a state-run institution  isn’t necessary, and the private sector can fill the need.   

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iowa Juvenile Home
4:18 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Compromise Sought on Juvenile Home

Iowa's Capitol on a snowy morning
John Pemble Iowa Public Radio

As the legal battle over whether Governor Terry Branstad had the authority to close the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo plays out in court, lawmakers are coming to agreement over what changes are needed to establish a place for the state's female juvenile delinquents.  A bill in the Iowa Senate provides for a state run facility for girls, much like the one in Eldora that serves boys.  But changes to state law are needed to ensure that girls will not again be held indefinitely in isolation cells, without access to education and services.  Host Clay Masters talks with Jerry Foxhoven who served a

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Statehouse and Politics
7:26 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Branstad asks Supreme Court to Overturn Juvenile Home Order

Credit John Pemble / IPR

This legislative session has been dominated by controversy surrounding the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo. Gov  Branstad ordered its closure after the group Disability Rights Iowa found girls were being held in isolation. Four lawmakers sued Branstad to keep the home open. Last week many were surprised when a polk county district court judge ordered the reopening of the home. Governor Branstad has asked the Iowa Supreme Court to overturn the order to reopen the home. He made the announcement Friday and he is being represented by the Iowa Attorney General.

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News Buzz
3:51 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

An Iowan in Sochi and Other Stories

johnny9s / flickr

In this News Buzz program, hear six short interviews about: the Iowa Juvenile Home, the Olympics in Russia, an embarrassing phone conversation involving the U.S. State Department, a cyber-security competition, a deadly snowmobile accident and safety concerns, and the analysis of flood prediction. 

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Statehouse and Politics
7:43 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Juvenile Home's Future Unsure, The Likelihood of a Gas Tax Hike

Photo by John Pemble

Governor Terry Branstad ordered the closure of the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo last month. It was after an investigation uncovered some girls were held in isolation cells. Last week Senate Democrats unveiled a bill to reopen the home under a new program. IPR's Clay Masters talks with Statehouse Correspondent about the juvenile home as well as the likelihood of lawmakers raising the state's  gas tax.

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Juvenile Home Backlash
11:17 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Courts Oppose Closing Juvenile Home

State lawmakers looking into the closing of the Iowa Juvenile Home at Toledo got a fresh perspective from juvenile court officers who work with the  delinquent girls who used to be assigned to the home.     The officers argue that Iowa needs a facility specifically for  girls who’ve been in serious trouble with the law.  Governor Branstad is at odds with the judicial branch. 

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Statehouse and Politics
6:53 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Stricter Training of Stun Guns Considered in Iowa Prisons

Credit John Pemble / IPR

A committee in the Iowa Senate heard from experts on using stun guns, so-called tasers, to subdue difficult inmates. Two prisoners have died in Iowa jails after being tased by officers. A number of other law enforcement agencies have faced lawsuits for their use of stun guns. Iowa Public Radio's Joyce Russell reports

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Statehouse and Politics
5:53 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Lawmakers Hear from Former Juvenile Home Residents, Employees

Credit John Pemble / IPR

Democrats in the Iowa Senate plan to introduce a bill to reopen the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo.   Governor Branstad ordered the home closed after an  investigation revealed that some girls were being held in long-term isolation.   On Wednesday, a Senate committee heard testimony from former residents and staff, as well as Toledo boosters.  Iowa Public Radio’s Joyce Russell reports:  

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River to River
1:32 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

News Buzz: Obamacare Fix and Cholesterol Guidelines

Iowa State Univeristy professor Matt DeLisi testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee about recommendations to reduce the prison population.
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

While support to reduce prison sentences has been growing, Iowa State University sociologist Matt DeLisi recently testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that for certain offenders this would be a mistake. 

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Talk of Iowa
3:28 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Justice Marsha Ternus on Judicial Restoration

Ben Kieffer interviews Justice Marsha Ternus
Emily Woodbury

Marsha Ternus was the first woman to serve as chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, but she's perhaps best known as one of the Iowa Supreme Court justices dismissed by Iowa voters three years ago, for her role in the decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the state. Host Ben Keiffer sits down with Ternus to get her thoughts on that ruling, and on justice and judicial independence in the U.S.

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River to River
1:46 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

A Look at the U.S. Supreme Court's 2013-2014 Term

The United State Supreme Court
William & Mary ACS

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013-2014 term started this month and after last year’s series of surprising and tumultuous rulings eyes again are trained on the nation’s highest court.

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River to River
2:21 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

The Anatomy of a False Confession

According to researchers ISU psychology Stephanie Madon and Max Guyll juveniles, people with intellectual disabilities and those who are undereducated tend to be more at risk for making false confessions.
martin/ x1klima Flickr
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Crime, Justice and Public Safety
7:55 am
Wed September 11, 2013

UNI Panel Explores Racial Questions in Trayvon Martin Case

George Zimmerman leaves court with his family after a jury found him not guilty in the murder of Trayvon Martin, in Sanford, Fla., on July 14.
Credit Joe Burbank / AP

 Dr. Michael Blackwell, the University of Northern Iowa's Director for Multicultural Education, joins IPR's Sarah McCammon to preview a panel discussion at UNI on the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case.

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River to River
4:13 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Speeding on Iowa's Roadways & Looking Back At The Life Of George "Bud" Day

Nathan Jongewaard / flickr

There has been a lot of talk in the past few weeks about an Iowa State Trooper who was driving the Governor back in April. He was caught doing 84 mph, given a speeding ticket and disciplined. So, what are the risks of speeding?

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River to River
2:26 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Jury Duty: The role of a juror

In Iowa for serious trials—such as those for murder or rape—the number of jurors will be 12. This number varies from state to state, in Florida the number is of jurors is the constitutional minimum of six.
elycefeliz Flickr

With George Zimmerman recently acquitted of murder in the death Trayvon Martin host Ben Kieffer looks at the role juries play in the U.S. justice system.  What are the origins of the jury and how have juries evolved over the centuries.  Also, what does the recent flourish of media attention aimed at the jurors for the Zimmerman trial reveal and distort about jury duty?

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Talk of Iowa
3:39 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Iowa's Prison Programming

Mitchellville inmate plays "Danny Boy" on the piano
Emily Woodbury / IPR

Today on Talk of Iowa, we wrap up our corrections series with a conversation on the programs offered to incarcerated offenders. Host Charity Nebbe learns about how these programs are designed for treatment, recovery, rehab, and enrichment. And, she inquires into the effectiveness of these programs towards lowering the recidivism rate.

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Talk of Iowa
1:35 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Community Corrections in Iowa

When leaving the Mitchellville prison women are furnished with a basic wardrobe that includes two complete outfits, a winter coat, three pairs of underwear, three pairs of socks, a bra, a set of pajamas, a pair of shoes and a purse.
Emily Woodbury Iowa Public Radio

Probation, parole, work release and other programs are designed to help offenders live as productive members of the community. Host Charity Nebbe continues Iowa Public Radio’s series exploring corrections in Iowa with a look at community corrections from the perspectives of offenders, parole and probation officers and volunteers.

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River to River
12:37 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

2012-2013 U.S. Supreme Court Term Wrap-up

On Thursday, June 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Defense of Marriage Act--also known as DOM--is unconstitutional as it violates the Fifth Amendment which protects against the deprivation of the equal liberty of persons.
DonTaylor50 Flickr

The U.S.

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River to River
3:04 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Scandals Distracting from Second Term Priorities

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at a news conference Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Credit Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is under fire for a wide-ranging subpoena of phone records at the Associated Press, as part of investigating a national security leak. That, along with continuing investigations of the IRS and the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, has sucked all the air out of Washington for several days. Host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts Wayne Moyer from Grinnell College and Donna Hoffman from University of Northern Iowa about the scandals and how they're impacting President Obama's second-term agenda.

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Crime, Justice and Public Safety
6:26 am
Tue May 14, 2013

Payout Reduced in Henry's Turkey Discrimination Case

Credit freefoto.com

A landmark $240 million verdict against a Texas company who employed mentally disabled workers at an Iowa turkey processing plant will be reduced to about $1.6 million because of a law capping their damages. The 32 men faced decades of verbal and physical abuse at work and at home.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Henry's Turkey Service have agreed in legal briefs that each plaintiff can recover $50,000 - compared to the $7.5 million a jury awarded them on May 1st.

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Politics
4:11 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Wiggins Stays on Court

Credit Facebook

An effort by religious conservatives to oust  another Iowa Supreme Court Justice has failed.  Iowans voted yesterday to retain Justice David Wiggins on the court. Iowa Public Radio's Joyce Russell reports.

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River to River
1:09 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Judicial Retention

Iowa judicial building
Shane Vander Hart / Flickr

As it was two years ago during the midterm election, judicial retention is again a contentious issue in Iowa. Ben Kieffer talks with members of the Iowa State Bar Association to help lay out all the facts and arguments pertaining to the retention of Justice Wiggins, as well as the different opinions on what makes a judicial system political.

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Wiggins Battle
2:48 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

Wiggins on the Ballot

Advocates for and against an Iowa Supreme Court Justice are wrapping up their bus tours across the state.   Critics of the court’s same-sex marriage ruling  urged voters to reject Justice David Wiggins.   The other side is advocating a yes vote for all the judges on the ballot.   But one justice who was thrown off the court two years ago worries that might not work.

Dueling Buses
6:54 am
Mon September 24, 2012

Dueling Bus Tours Launched


Two statewide bus tours begin in Des Moines with stops planned in more than a dozen communities.    They’ll be promoting opposing views on whether Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins should stay on the court.     
River to River
11:21 am
Thu August 9, 2012

Patterns of the Iowa Supreme Court

On today's "River to River", we take look at the inner workings of the Iowa Supreme Court -  including patterns emerging that provide clues as to how individual judges view issues before the court.  Katherine talks with Des Moines attorney Ryan Koopmans who’s analyzed Iowa Supreme Court Decisions over the past year. Later, host Ben Kieffer talks with author and historian Lawrence Goldstone. Goldstone has studied the U.S. Supreme Court and its interpretation of several amendments to the Constitution.

River to River
9:21 am
Mon July 2, 2012

Violent Crime: One Victim’s Story

Jonna Williams

Host Ben Kieffer’s recent conversations with offenders inside the Iowa State Penitentiary prompted this look at the victim’s perspective on violent crime. This hour, Ben talks with Jonna Williams of Waterloo, the victim of a kidnapping and rape in 1994, when she was just 13 years old. Also joining the conversation are Black Hawk County Prosecutor Tom Ferguson and Mary Roche, Director of Victim Programs with the Iowa Department of Corrections.

Contact Jonna about victim’s advocacy through her Facebook page

River to River
12:02 pm
Fri June 1, 2012

Inside the Fort Madison State Penitentiary - Part 2

Alex Heuer Iowa Public Radio

Host Ben Kieffer continues the second hour of the special, two-part program featuring conversations he had on a recent trip to the Iowa State Penitentiary in Ft. Madison. The current building dates back to 1839 but a new prison is under construction. Ben talks with two inmates serving life sentences to find out about their lives now and how that may change at the new facility. Ben later talks with Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections John Baldwin.