Father Says Punishment Doesn’t Fit Crime for Man Who Stabbed Son to Death

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CLIVE, Iowa -- A father whose son was stabbed more than 30 times last year is now worried the man responsible for the horrible crime is getting off easy in prison.

Police say 21-year-old Zachary Paulsen was stabbed over 30 times near the Clive Greenbelt Trail in August 2014. In September, a jury found Stephen Jonas, 50, guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced him to 50 years in prison.

After the verdict came down earlier this year, Kurt Paulsen said he felt some sort of justice. Now, he says it's not enough.

"I found him, my son's body lying against the fence,” Paulsen said. “I thought he'd go to a maximum-security prison because it was a very violent crime. He stabbed him 35 times."

Jonas was sent to the Newton Correctional Facility, a medium-level security prison.

“It just shocked us … he'll have cell mates and 4-5 hours of free time,” Paulsen said.

Fred Scaletta, assistant director of the Department of Corrections, described the placement process, saying “It is more about the offender`s history and current behavior that determines their custody level and facility placement; along with the specific rehabilitation needs that each institution provides.”

But it's something Paulsen can't fathom.

“When they evaluated him, I think he lied his way through that and got them to believe he was in harm. I think he got to go where he wants to go,” Paulsen said.

Scaletta said there are currently 467 inmates at Newton Correctional Facility with a violent offense, 102 of which are serving sentences of 40 years or longer and 31 inmates serving life in prison.

“The review board needs to be reviewed. I just can't see that they are sending these people that do these kinds of things in these places when we have facilities for violent criminals."

Until a change is made, the Paulsen family says it will be hard to find peace.

The Department of Corrections said 43 people convicted of second-degree murder were incarcerated over the past five years, 41 of who were placed in medium-security facilities. Only two were sent to a maximum-security prison.


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