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What Smart Justice Reform Looks Like in DSM

Justice Reform in DSM

In Iowa, while Black Americans make up only 4% of the population, they account for 20% of the population in our jails and 24% in our prisons. The inequities regarding race in our state highlight the systemic issues that need to be addressed here.

The “Smart Justice Reform” webinar, tackles topics such as the FOCUS committee, justice reform, investing in the workforce, sentencing reform and more. Speakers include:

  • Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP State Conference of Branches and co-chair of the FOCUS committee
  • Roy Williams, CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
  • Linda Ashworth, vice president and COO of the Dayton Chamber of Commerce
  • Kate Shanks, vice president of public affairs at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
  • David H. Velazquez, director of education business coalitions at the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) and Unite LA
  • Angela Connolly, Polk County Board of Supervisors

Game Changers in the NAACP

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has several areas of wellbeing known as Game Changers that the organization focuses on in its efforts to lift the African American community and all communities within a region. These include:

  • Economic sustainability
  • Education
  • Health
  • Public safety and criminal justice
  • Voting rights and political representation
  • Youth engagement

Andrews outlines the legislative agenda supported by the Iowa NAACP. Public policy priorities include:

  • Eliminating racial profiling
  • Increasing fair employment
  • Ensuring the right to vote
  • Sentencing reform
  • Addressing the wealth gap
  • Removing education disparities

Criminal Justice in Greater Oklahoma City

In 2015, Williams says that the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber engaged and spent money on consultants in an effort to understand who was in their jails. From there, they looked at ways to implement a new plan to reduce the population in their jails and fix what they saw as a broken model. Not only was the model economically unviable, it was also unsustainable from a social standpoint. The Chamber worked on this issue for five years, reducing the daily number of people jailed from 2,600 to fewer than 1,500. By working on this issue, the Chamber has helped saved the county $20 million a year. They have created a jail trust with an executive director, which is set to take over the jail instead of having a politician managing it.

Dayton Chamber’s Office of Reentry Program

Ashworth discusses receiving a grant to do research on the recidivism rate in 2010 and moving forward by creating the Office of Ex-Offender Reentry, a collaborative effort within their community. The program’s goal is to reduce the recidivism rate by 50%. Ashworth says that by providing opportunity for housing and employment services, you will see a rise in productive citizens within the community.

Hear from all of the speakers by viewing the entire webinar below:


The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 24 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and more than 365 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.

Greater Des Moines Partnership

DSM USA is the regional identifier for Greater Des Moines (DSM). DSM USA is a bold statement to the world: This is a welcoming, diverse and vibrant community with affordable and accessible amenities for residents and businesses. This regional identifier is the result of significant quantitative and qualitative research. The Partnership will champion the DSM USA message, and encourages its Investors, its more than 6,000 Regional Business Members and DSM USA Ambassadors to help share the region's story with One Voice.