Friday, December 1, 2023

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Civic Skinny

By the numbers: voting and jail statistics. And four Polk inmates who have settled in.


Some numbers:

Gannett lays off a “t.”

Gannett lays off a “t.”

At the end of last week, there were 835 inmates in the Polk County jail. Of those, 128 had been in jail for less than a week — many for just one night as they awaited release following arrests for things like drunk driving or prostitution. But four — three men and a woman — have been there for more than a year.

Lavelle McKinley, 44, was jailed on Jan. 16, 2013. He is charged with murdering an acquaintance, Cynthia Rouse, in her home on 21st Street in Drake Park on Jan. 13, 2013. His trial has been delayed by arguments about who will represent him. The charges are still pending, and no hearing is scheduled.

Marquice Morris, 19, is also charged with murder. He has been in jail since June 27 of last year. He is accused of killing 20-year-old Christopher Byers in a robbery gone bad.  The charges are pending, and a pretrial conference has been set for this week. A second defendant, Joshua McCoy, was found guilty of first-degree murder on April 15 of this year and is serving a life sentence at the penitentiary in Fort Madison. He is 21 years old.

Timothy Vincent, 23, has been in jail since Aug. 17, 2013. He faces a variety of charges, including assault and harassment. There have been various issues involving competency to stand trial, and now a hearing is set for next week.

Hanna Walker was jailed on Oct. 11, 2013, after being charged with possession and intent to deliver methamphetamine. She has been found guilty and sentenced, but she is awaiting transfer until there is room for her at another facility, according to a spokesperson in the office of the Polk County sheriff.

Another person who is building seniority at the jail: Steve Luebke, the car salesman and serial drunk driver. He has been in jail since Sept. 14 of this year. Since one of the six charges against him is parole violation, he is being held without bond. Formal charges will be filed this week, according to County Attorney John Sarcone.

A person cannot be sentenced to spend more than a year in jail. Sentences of a year or more are served in state or federal penitentiaries, but a person can be kept in jail for more than a year if there is a delay in a trial.

Postscript: There’s no such thing as a free meal, even in jail. Polk County inmates are charged a booking fee of $75 plus $60 a day for room and board. The first day’s $60 fee is waived. …

Another number:

As of Saturday, there were 8,146 people in the state prisons. The capacity, in theory, is 7,431. Of those, 644 are women. There were also 21,975 people on probation, 3,756 on parole and 1,622 on pretrial release with supervision. …

And another:

Iowa’s nonfarm employment stood at 1,542,800 in August, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency. Nearly 55,000 jobs have been created since Terry Branstad became governor nearly four years ago. He promised to create 200,000 in five years. That fifth year will be challenging. …

More numbers:

The state of Iowa is not quite as well off as some would have you believe. The state’s Revenue Estimating Conference met last week and cut by about $130 million the amount of revenue the state is likely to take in this fiscal year. Last March the three-person panel put the number at $6,983,200,000. The new number is $6,850,300,000. No one revenue source accounts for the drop; nearly everything is down a bit. …

Still more numbers:

There are 1,928,299 registered “active” voters in this state. That’s up a bit from the 1,910,703 of two years ago — a presidential election year — but down markedly from the 1,974,234 of four years ago. The drop has nothing to do with issues or campaigns. The state was reapportioned after the 2010 elections, which required a mailing to all voters. If the mailing was returned as undeliverable — which would particularly affect Story and Johnson, the university counties — the person was switched to the “inactive” voter rolls, which jumped by about 100,000 after the mailing. But the number of active voters has been rising daily as the election nears, says Jamie Fitzgerald, the Polk County auditor. …

And more numbers:

As of the weekend, 46,076 voters in Polk County had requested absentee ballots, and 9,504 of those had been returned. There’s no way to tell how those people voted, of course — absentee ballots are opened on Election Day — but 23,643 of the requests came from registered Democrats, 14,244 from registered Republicans and 8,099 from voters who are not registered with a party. Ninety came from persons registered with minor parties.

Of the returned ballots, 9,504 are from Democrats, 5,684 from Republicans, 2,479 from independents and 22 from minor-party members.

In Iowa Senate District 17, which has gotten a lot of attention because of the hooha surrounding the candidacy of Democrat Tony Bisignano, 2,054 voters have already voted or requested absentee ballots. There are about 33,000 active voters in the district — half are registered Democrats, a third are independents — and both Republican Jonathan Lochman and independent Jim Bollard are eyeing the seat. Of the 2,054 ballots requested, 1,415 are from Democrats, but many of those might be people supporting Bollard. Tensions still run strong in the district following a three-way primary that Bisignano won by just a handful of votes. CV

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