The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa is involved in multiple initiatives aimed at curbing recidivism by those coming out of both state and federal prison.
WARN Reentry Meetings
In a partnership with the Iowa Sixth Judicial District Department of Corrections, our office participates in WARN (“Welcome and Resource Notification”) meetings every other month. All State of Iowa parolees who reside in the Sixth Judicial District are required to attend the first meeting that is held upon their release. Other individuals who may be at high-risk to re-offend may also attend. During the event, attendees are familiarized with various resources that are available in the community to assist in their transition out of prison. An Assistant U.S. Attorney discussed federal firearm laws and the significant penalties that apply if they decide, as felons, to possess a firearm or ammunition. A local law enforcement representative underscores this point, emphasizing that law enforcement and prosecutors work closely together to aggressively enforce federal and state firearm laws. WARN meetings appear to be making a difference, with a study showing that individuals who attended a WARN meeting committed fewer new felony offenses than a comparison group that had not attended a WARN session.
Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Orientation
Although there is no federal prison located in the Northern District of Iowa, our office regularly joins the United States Probation Office in participating in videoconference orientation sessions with inmates at BOP facilities. The participating inmates are scheduled for release to this district within the upcoming year. During the orientation session, federal probation officers speak to the inmates regarding the expectations of the probation office and court while on supervised release. An AUSA and Assistant Federal Public Defender are also present to answer questions and speak to the inmates.
Our office’s Monetary Penalties Unit (MPU) meets with individuals who owe a financial penalty to the government or victims, and who are successfully completing their terms of supervised release. In order to assist these individuals in fulfilling their financial obligations while successfully transitioning back to the community, our office provides them with a financial packet outlining their financial obligations, the collection ramifications, and payment schedules. The MPU meets with all debtors, both as a group and individually, and works through their financial questions, budgets, and payment plants. These meetings are held in both Cedar Rapids and Sioux City twice yearly.
Our office is heavily involved in crime prevention initiatives, focusing primarily on two areas: Heroin and Opioid Abuse Prevention and Violent Crime Prevention.
Heroin and Opioid Abuse Prevention
In order to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic spreading across Iowa, our Office has created a program of enforcement, prevention and treatment training and outreach called the Northern District Opioid Initiative. As part of that effort, our office worked with the Cedar Rapids Police Department and the Midwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) to create the Eastern Iowa Heroin Initiative. The Eastern Iowa Heroin Initiative is a funded initiative to support a Cedar Rapids police officer to assist Linn, Black Hawk, Johnson, and Dubuque Counties, which are the counties in Eastern Iowa with the highest incidence of heroin and opioid abuse. Led by a Cedar Rapids Police Officer working closely with USAO Deputy Criminal Chief and Opioid Coordinator Pat Reinert, the heroin initiative has three mutually supportive efforts: prevention, treatment, and enforcement.
The treatment and prevention components are focused on preventing opioid abuse and educating stakeholders in the treatment of users who suffer a drug overdose. Beginning in 2015, our office has hosted numerous summits, and community town hall events to raise awareness of the dangers of opioid abuse in our communities. We have also conducted training for healthcare, prevention specialists, treatment professionals, and first responders (law enforcement, EMS, etc.) in support of the prevention, treatment and enforcement components. Law enforcement specific training has focused on providing training on investigating an overdose death or injury investigation. This training has been provided directly to numerous law enforcement agencies, and through the Iowa County Attorney’s Association to Iowa’s County Attorneys.
For more information on the Northern Iowa Opioid Initiative, or to request a speaker on this topic, email AUSA Reinert at Pat.Reinert@usdoj.gov (link sends e-mail), or check out the Eastern Iowa Heroin Initiative’s Facebook page at
Violent Crime Prevention
Through the Project Safe Neighborhood initiative, the Iowa SAFE task force was developed. The task force conducts 3-4 call-in meetings a year where gang/social group members are invited to hear from community members, local law enforcement officers, and prosecuting attorneys, about the effects of gun violence and the resources available to deter them from engaging in violent acts or crimes.