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Determinacy Type1: Indeterminate
Time Served Requirements:
Mandatory Minimums: Must serve minimum of 70% of maximum sentence. Includes Murder 2nd Degree, Sexual Abuse 2nd Degree, Kidnapping 2nd Degree, Robbery 1st and 2nd Degree, Attempted Murder, and Vehicular Homicide.2
Standard Good Time:
Earned Time can result in reduction in sentences per Iowa Code 903A.2 (2009).  Earned time applies at the rate of 1.2 days for each day served to all sentences upon admission except sentences for sexual predator or forcible felonies which carry an 85% or 70% mandatory sentence.  Under those categories, earned time applies only after completing the mandatory sentence. If a sex offender is receiving Earned Time and refuses Sex Offender treatment, Earned Time stops and will not be reinstated until the offender successfully participates and completes the treatment.  Following successful completion of sex offender treatment, the offender can petition the warden to restore lost earned time. Under special sentences (903B.1 and 903B.2), any revocation that results in the offender being revoked to prison (1st offense 2 years and second offense 5 years), terms are not subject to earned time reduction except for the special 10 year sentence for a class D felony and misdemeanors is subject to earned time reduction.3
Habitual Offender Law Types:
Three Strikes
Habitual Offender Laws:
Iowa Code section 902.8 states "An habitual offender is any person convicted of a class "C" or a class "D" felony, who has twice before been convicted of any felony in a court of this or any other state, or of the United States. An offense is a felony if, by the law under which the person is convicted, it is so classified at the time of the person's conviction. A person sentenced as an habitual offender shall not be eligible for parole until the person has served the minimum sentence of confinement of three years." 

The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that the habitual offender statutes do not charge a separate offense, but simply are a sentencing enhancement.  State v. Woody, 613 N.W.2d 215, 217 (Iowa 2000); accord State v. Brady, 442 N.W.2d. 57, 58 (Iowa 1989). While the Iowa statute applies to prior convictions, other jurisdictions have ruled that this issue must still go to a jury.  At this time, Iowa's habitual offender statute has been upheld, but may be subject to a future challenge which could be successful.4
General Jail Cutoff (months):
Sentences To Prison:
A defendant who is sentenced to a term of imprisonment greater than one year is turned over to the custody of the Iowa Department of Corrections. A defendant who receives a sentence of less than one year serves that time in a county jail.5
Notable Sentencing Laws:

Special Sentence. In 2005 legislation was enacted that established ten-year and lifetime post-release supervision for sex offenders. A person convicted of a class B or C felony (903B.1) are committed to the custody of the director of the Iowa Department of Corrections, with supervision as if on parole, for the rest of their life. Those convicted of a misdemeanor or class D felony (903B.2) are committed for a period of ten years. Special sentence paroles may include offenders incarcerated in prison, probationers, offenders serving jail time, and offenders participating in community service programs.


Violator/Shock Probation Programs:6,7

  • The department of corrections provides violator/shock probation programs at three institutions: 30 beds for females at the Iowa correctional institution for women (ICIW) at Mitchellville, 70 beds for males at the correctional release center (CRC) at Newton, and 58 beds for males at Luster Heights (ASP) at Harpers Ferry.
  • Through an act of the Iowa Legislature, the Violator Program came into existence some 20 years ago, the purpose of which was to provide an alternative to long-term imprisonment for those offenders whose probation/parole had been suspended.
  • These programs provide up to a six-month intensive intervention for probation, parole, and work release offenders that have violated conditions of supervision and would otherwise have been returned to or sent to prison. Additionally, offenders sentenced to the custody of the department of corrections that have been identified as potential shock probation candidates are eligible for program participation.

Correctional System
System Structure Type:
Prison Jurisdiction:

The IOWA Department of Corrections is charged with the supervision, custody, and correctional programming of convicted adult offenders who are sentenced by the state Courts for a period of incarceration in State prisons.8

  • Code of Iowa 904: Department of Corrections’primary role is to manage Institutions and contract with Community-Based Corrections to provide community supervision.9
Type of Facilities:
The Department of Corrections operates 9 prisons and uses 24 community-based correctional facilities.10

Private Prisons:
The DOC does not hold any offenders in private prisons.  

Release Supervision
Post-Prison Supervision Jurisdiction:
Community Corrections Agency(ies)
Supervision Jurisdiction:

Judicial District Departments of Correctional Services

  • The Department of Corrections has funding and oversight responsibilities for the State’s eight Judicial District Departments of Correctional Services, which provide the community supervision and correctional services component of Iowa’s adult correctional system across the state.11
  • Code of Iowa 905: Community-Based Corrections’ primary role is to manage pre and post institutional services for offenders. Code of Iowa 901B:Corrections Continuum.12
  • Agencies are state funded and each has a local board of directors.13
  • 45.1(1) Persons committed to the director of the department of corrections and granted parole by the Iowa board of parole shall be supervised by the judicial district departments of correctional services.14
  • 44.1(1) Supervision. Persons committed to the director of the department of corrections and approved for work release by the board of parole shall be supervised and housed by the judicial district departments of correctional services in accordance with the purchase of service agreement between the district departments and the department of corrections.15
  • Community-Based Corrections programs include the following:16
    • Parole
    • Probation
    • Work Release
    • Residential Facilities
    • Pretrial

Board of Parole

  • Code of Iowa 904A: Board of Parole’s primary role is to determine release from institutions.
  • The Board reviews the status of each person committed to the custody of the Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections and considers the person’s prospects for parole or work release. The Board reviews at least annually the status of persons other than Class A felons, Class B felons serving time under the 70% law, felons serving mandatory minimum sentences, and those serving determinate sentences.17
  • The Board is empowered to grant, rescind, and revoke parole, as well as discharge offenders from parole. The Board decides the conditions of parole, which may be supplemented by the supervising Judicial District.18
  • The Board is empowered to grant or rescind work release. Work release periods are approximately six months, but may be adjusted through Board action.19
Release Types:
  • Expiration of term
  • Release to Supervision (see post-prison supervision types)
  • Work Release
Supervision Types:


  • Probation is another sentencing option. A defendant who is placed on probation is placed under the supervision of a community based correctional program. In Iowa, community-based correctional programs are public agencies that are supervised by appointed boards of directors. Typically, probation comes with court ordered conditions attached. A defendant must comply with these conditions to successfully complete probation. A defendant who violates a probation order may be sent to a correctional facility or a county jail.20


Disclaimer: The information on the Fact Sheets has been assembled verbatim from the public sources referenced in the Fact Sheets. For some states, the Department of Corrections or Community Supervision has also provided additional information. Because this type of information is constantly changing, users are cautioned to research and verify website information independently.

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