Davenport, Iowa Alderman Ray Ambrose thinks tougher bond and harsher penalties could reduce crime in his city.
Leading his campaign against crime is the idea of requiring accused criminals to pay 100 percent of their bond, in cash, before they are released from jail. Depending on the nature of their crime, many detainees are currently required to post only 10% of their total bond amount, often through a bonding company, to be released.
Ambrose, who represents Davenport's 4th Ward, said he thinks the situation in Iowa deteriorated when Polk County - which is the most populous county in the state - eased bond amounts, allowing some detainees to be released sooner and potentially easing some jail overcrowding. Ambrose said "criminals that are running around and shooting at each other" tarnishes the reputation of local communities and is unfair to other residents.
"Whether it's the shooters, the sexual perverts, you know, I don't care. As far as I'm concerned, we can keep them all in jail and make them all post 100 percent bonds," Ambrose said. "As far as I'm concerned, I never want to see them back in our communities."
Ambrose takes that idea a step further, suggesting a possible return to the days of prisoner work farms.
"I think what you've got to do is, you've got to look back 100 to 150 years ago, and look how justice was doled out back then. You know, open up prison farms, get them out of our community and put them on a prison farm, and let them support themselves," Ambrose said.
He also has support for his ideas.
"I think if you are a felon and you carry a gun and you use it, I think you should pay all the bond," said Davenport resident Penny Hazen, who lives in the 4th Ward that Ambrose represents.
Hazen said someone died in a shooting that happened near her home, and that shootings are more common in her neighborhood now.
"I think if they served a little more time and they had to come up with more to actually get themselves out of trouble, they may not do it again," Hazen said.