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Iowa City's Strategic Plan: Make Every Young Person a Criminal

Iowa City's Strategic Plan: Make Every Young Person a Criminal

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Published by votenonewjail
PDF version of Jeff Cox's article as published in The Prairie Progressive.
PDF version of Jeff Cox's article as published in The Prairie Progressive.

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Published by: votenonewjail on Jun 02, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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“There is a veryreal danger that thepresence of a weaponwill heighten ratherthan defuse potentiallyviolent situations.”
he City of Iowa City no doubt hasa “strategic plan.” These docu-ments usually contain a mixture of goals and methods to achieve those goals.
means that they must be updated everyfew years despite the chorus of groansthat can be heard from the naysayersand skeptics who actually have to do thework.To make sure that everything is upto date in Iowa City, and the strategic plan actually conforms to city policy, thecity council should add a goal: “We willinsure that every young person in IowaCity has a criminal record.”The council already has the meth-ods in place to achieve this goal. The jail bond referendum was defeated in November and again in May because theIowa City Police Department was largelyresponsible for the 500% increase in thenumber of people jailed since the last jail was built, at a time when popula-tion increased only by 150%. After the November referendum, the council votedto make things even worse by hiring two
-town streets, arresting and handing outcriminal citations to even more young people, including college students. Fol-lowing the May referendum, the councilresponded by applying for a federal grantto hire two additional armed police of-
 present in school to issue criminal cita-tions, arrest students, and provide armed
-munity twice before, most recently whenformer City High Principal Mark Hanson
was truly astonished at the outcry, sincemost other high schools around the state,or at least a lot of them, have an armed
Mason City, and opposition was so vehe-ment that the school board eventually letit die. Does no one have any historicalmemory? If the School Board proceedswith this, it will be highly divisive, andcreate great bitterness in a communityalready badly divided on the jail issue.A recent editorial in the New York Times (April 18) pointed out that it has
-ize far more juveniles than comparable
trained to arrest and penalize people, notact as teachers or social workers or rolemodels. Will we not be content untilevery single young person in Iowa Cityhas a criminal record?The council applied for the federalgrant on the advice of Police Chief SamHargardine, whose response to the SandyHook massacre was to publicly call for 
There is no reason at all to believe that
the Sandy Hook massacre, and it is wellknown that the infamous ColumbineHigh School massacre happened despite
-haps ironic that the major outcome of theSandy Hook massacre, with predictable
the introduction of guns into our schools.
leave their guns at the door. Some par-
Iowa City’s Strategic Plan:Make Every Young Person a Criminal
ents will welcome the armed supervisionof their children, but other parents will beoutraged. Some children will be afraidof them. There is a very real danger thatthe presence of a weapon will heightenrather than defuse potentially violentsituations. What happens when a student
and either has a knife or tries to grab an
Chief Hargardine will of course saythat we are highly trained profession-als who will probably never even drawour guns, but don’t say it can’t happenhere. Keep in mind what happened onthe streets of Iowa City to a now forgot-ten immigrant from Africa, John Deng, sointoxicated that he could barely stand up,
 penknife that he was probably using todefend himself against an assault by awhite man. It does happen here, and if a student is shot or even killed by an of-
case might be, it will be entirely legal.I hesitate to even raise the issue be-cause of the storm of outrage that greetedour even raising the issue of racial dis- parities in the jail, not to mention the vileand abusive racist communications I re-ceived for daring to oppose a bigger jail.(See “Don’t You Dare Use the R Word”from the Prairie Progressive, available athttp://votenojusticecenter.org/). How-ever, The New York Times editorial also pointed out that the presence of armed
-nalization of African American young people.Iowa City community leaders have
so far by imposing a 100% racist juvenilecurfew, and putting up apartheid-likesigns at our bus stops. At a time when40% of those jailed are African-Amer-ican, our community leaders proposed
 Make Every Young Person a Criminal,Continued on Page 5

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