Legislature Passes Bill to Expunge Not-Guilty Verdict Records

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Legislature has passed a bill that would expunge the records of people with not-guilty verdicts and dismissed criminal charges. The Senate voted 42-0 Thursday for the bill. The chamber already had approved the bill but had to vote again after the House made changes, including adding a 180-day waiting period for the records to be expunged. The House approved its version 96-0 Tuesday. Current law allows such information to remain on a person’s records indefinitely. Continue Reading

Government Oversight Committee May Tackle Civil Forfeiture

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Lawmakers in a government oversight committee say they may propose changes to an Iowa law that allows authorities to seize money and other items from people suspected of illegal activity. People in support of reforming what is known as civil asset forfeiture testified Wednesday that revising state law could ensure people are treated more fairly. The Iowa law allows authorities to seize assets like cash, cars or property from a person suspected of illegal activity. Law enforcement officials can keep the items, even if a case does not result in a conviction. Critics say the law makes it difficult for a person to recover seized items. Law enforcement officials disagree, though noted they were open to working with lawmakers to tighten guidelines in the law to better track seized items. Continue Reading

14 Year Old Arrested After Teacher Tracks Stolen Phone

Police say that a stolen cellphone resulted in the arrest of a Burlington Juvenile at Westland Mall. Burlington Police arrested a 14 year old juvenile after a teacher at Aldo Leopold Middle School reported that her cell phone was stolen while she was running an afterschool program. Surveillance footage from the school implicated the 14 year old. The teacher used a program loaded onto her phone that allowed her to track the stolen device from her home. She informed police that the stolen phone was detected by the program in the vicinity of Westland Mall. Continue Reading

Stove Fire Damages Burlington Home

An accidental stove fire damaged a Burlington home yesterday evening. Just after 8:00pm, Burlington firefighters responded to a report of a stove fire at 314 S. 7th Street in Burlington. Upon arrival, they found flames shooting out of the homes kitchen window. Firefighters managed to enter the house and quickly extinguish the fire, which was contained to the kitchen. Homeowner Richard Wixom discovered the fire upon returning home and attempted to put it out before firemen arrived. Continue Reading

Fort Madison Prison Could be Open by Late Summer

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The head of a government oversight committee says the new, yet empty, Fort Madison prison could finally open in late summer or early fall this year, though inmates assigned to a psychiatric ward may be housed in another facility until certain building repairs are finished. Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee, told lawmakers Wednesday that the new timetable comes from the state Department of Corrections. He added the prison’s mental health ward is located in a building with design problems, so inmates could be placed temporarily at a state facility in Johnson County. The prison was scheduled to open in March 2014 but has been delayed by problems involving a geothermal system and an air ventilation system, among others. Kaufmann says lingering issues are being fixed. Continue Reading