This week, the Iowa House passed legislation aimed at individuals who harm children. House File 2253 increases penalties for kidnapping a child and ends the ability of criminals to earn credit to reduce the time they serve in prison for certain crimes against children.
Under current law, a person can be convicted of kidnapping in the second degree if they hold the victim for ransom or if they are armed with a dangerous weapon during the crime. Kidnapping is a class B felony, carrying a sentence of 25 years in prison with a minimum time served of 70% of the full sentence.
House File 2253 would expand the charge of kidnapping in the second degree to include cases where the person kidnapped is 15 or younger. Expanding this charge will keep those who seek to harm children in prison for a substantial amount of additional time.
When a person is sentenced to prison, they normally do not serve the entire sentence behind bars. In most cases, if prisoners exhibit good behavior and attend required programs they can reduce their sentence substantially.
House File 2253 ends the accrual of earned time for certain offenses that are directed at children. If House File 2253 becomes law, individuals convicted of the following crimes would not be eligible to accumulate earned time if the victim of the offense was 15 or younger; murder in the second degree, attempt to commit murder, sexual abuse in the first, second and third degree, lascivious acts with a child, assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist or school employee, kidnapping in the second and third degree, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation of a minor.
Under House File 2253, inmates would also be required to serve their full sentence for any of the above listed crimes before they would begin to serve a sentence for any other crime of which they were convicted.
The House also added a provision to provide expanded authority to the Attorney General’s office to conduct surveillance and investigation into cases of suspected human trafficking. I am very encouraged to see the legislature continue to take the problem of human trafficking seriously, and start taking meaningful step to combat what is a growing problem in Iowa.
House File 2253 has been sent to the Senate for their consideration. I am hopeful that these laws to protect Iowa from dangerous predators will be sent to the Governor soon.