4 The Record

Iowa legislative proposal targets tougher penalities for stealing cars

Davenport Democrat Winckler questions effectiveness of deterrent

We've got laws for almost anything you can think of. Sometimes they're pretty outrageous.

Researchers at Olivet Nazarene University put a list together.

For example, it's illegal to wear a fake mustache in Alabama if it makes people laugh in church.

It's against the law to mispronounce Arkansas... in Arkansas.

I'm in Illinois. Can I say "our Kansas"?

How about Iowa? Piano players with one arm by law have to perform for free. They can't get paid.

Hello Americans with Disabilities Act!

Your tax dollars at work.

In all seriousness, we think of laws as tools to protect us as long as they're constitutional.

Break out the School House Rock hit.

Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare.

A lot of our laws deal with crime and punishment.

One thing that's been particularly troubling over the last year in the Quad Cities is the stolen car activity.

One of your state lawmakers has an idea to do something about it.

Iowa State Senator Roby Smith introduced Senate File 2197 this week.

The Republican's plan would increase the penalties in Iowa for additional crimes committed while in a stolen car.

Anyone who steals a car and commits a forcible felony like kidnapping, robbery, sexual assault and more would be charged with a Class B felony.

It carries a maximum sentence of 25 years.

Right now, stealing a car worth more than $10,000 is a Class C felony with a maximum ten years and $10,000 fine.

Use it to commit a felony, the charge would be elevated to a Class B.

It's a Class D felony to steal a car worth up to $10,000.

That's a maximum five years and $7,500 fine. It would be increased to a Class C if a felony is committed.

Of course those additional crimes could be charged separately as well.

We invited Senator Roby Smith to appear on the program to discuss his legislation.

He wasn't able to make it because of a scheduling conflict.

One of his Democratic counterparts in the House, Iowa State Representative Cindy Winckler, joined 4 The Record for a conversation.

We'd like to think that most people don't like that cars are being stolen.

It's a non-partisan issue.

We asked Winckler for her general impression of the legislation introduced by Senator Roby Smith.

"I think that increasing penalties, in many cases, people identify that that would result in them not committing it. I'm not sure with our young people that that is a deterrent at all," Winckler said. "Sometimes the penalties that we think as legislators would stop the behavior aren't as effective as we hope they wil be."

She added that she doesn't think people are thinking about the penalties when they are committing the act.

"It's more thrill-seeker behavior, which is unfortunate," Winckler said.

It's our understanding a lot of these crimes are being committed by teenagers who might not be able to be prosecuted as adults.

That would keep them from facing this tougher punishment.

Some states and cities with a lot of gang activity are moving in the direction of criminal intervention programs that target kids.

Winckler said that kind of talk hasn't hit the general conversation of the Iowa Legislature in Des Moines as part of criminal justice reform. She said it would be up to the judiciary committee to start it.

Watch the full interview in the video above.

4 The Record is a weekly news and public affairs program focused on the issues important to you. It's a program unlike any other here in the Quad Cities. Tune in each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. as Jim Niedelman brings you up to speed on what's happening in the political arena, from Springfield, Des Moines, Washington, D.C. and right here at home.

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