This week, the Senate voted to appropriate more than $554 million to ensure safety for Iowans and communities throughout the state by adequately funding our prisons, our courts, the Department of Public Safety, the Attorney General, and other agencies and functions of our justice system.
As approved by the Senate, this year's Justice Budget (House File 2450) provides extra money to the Department of Corrections to hire more prison guards. Prisons are dangerous places. Additional guards will help keep the staff and public safe by maintaining control and preventing escapes.
The Justice Budget also invests in Iowa's successful Drug Courts, which reduce crime by teaching offenders how to stay off drugs and become responsible, contributing members of society. Participants are held accountable for their behavior and must adhere to the strict rules of the program or go straight to prison. Drug Courts also save taxpayer dollars. Each offender who participates in Drug Court saves thousands in tax dollars each year.
Consistent with the Governor's recommendation, the Senate's Justice Budget also provides full funding for victims' assistance grants. The House failed to approve adequate funding for these grants, which go to programs that assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Last year, these programs helped more than 27,000 Iowans find safe housing, seek counseling, get jobs and learn how to escape from an abusive relationship.
We also voted to put more state troopers on Iowa highways. More patrol officers make for safer roads and quicker response times when someone needs assistance, whether it is responding to an accident, a crime or a simple breakdown.