Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fourteen of the 25 inmates in prison on Carroll County convictions find themselves there as a result of sex crimes, many of them against minors.

According to Iowa Department of Corrections records, there are 101 people in the state’s criminal-justice system through Carroll County District Court actions. Carroll County residents who committed crimes in other counties are not included. For example, Troy Shearon, who grew up in Carroll, is in the Newton prison on a life sentence for a Polk County murder.

The vast majority of people in the system through district court here are now on parole or in community-based corrections.

But for those actually in prison a clear trend has emerged: The most common reason is a sex crime.

That’s not by accident, says Carroll County Attorney John Werden.

“I’ve taken a much tougher approach,” Werden said.

Werden said sexual-abuse cases are challenging to work and that local law enforcement in recent years have been involved in training to improve their skills. The U.S. Secret Service also has played a role in solving local sex-abuse cases, he said.

“I think officers today are better trained on sex offenders,” Werden said. “The support we get from other agencies makes the difference also.”

He cited the involvement of Secret Service officials stationed in Kansas City in particular.

“They really made the difference between a good case and a better case,” Werden said.

Additionally, society is more willing today to out sex offenders for crimes that in the past would have been swept as so many skeletons into the closets of both offenders and victims, Werden said.

An analysis of the corrections numbers shows three people are in prison from Carroll County District Court for drug offenses.

“We definitely have increases in misdemeanors (for use) and a decline in (felony) drug dealers,” Werden said.

Werden said a number of local drug cases have been handled federally through a referral program for “people we thought were worthy of that particular attention.”

Only one woman is in prison through Carroll County District Court — Rachel E. Rogers, 28, who went into the system in 2003 on a robbery charge and is incarcerated in the Iowa Correctional Institution For Women in Mitchellville.

Many of the inmates convicted of sex offenses received five- to 10-year sentences that carry special lifetime parole provisions.

The longest sentence for anyone in the system through Carroll County, for any crime, is the 45-year one handed down to Michael A. Maclin, 38, for drug charges. Maclin is now in the Anamosa State Penitentiary.

Jesse R. Nietzel, 19, and Ernest Wiebers, 63, have the longest sentences for sex crimes at 25 years each. Neitzel isn’t expected to be released until 2031 and Wiebers is looking at getting out in 2028.