POLK COUNTY, Iowa -- The new sheriff of Polk County hopes a new focus on justice reform at the federal level could lead to changes here in Iowa.
The U.S. House and Senate passed the First Step Act earlier this week. It would ease sentences for non-violent offenders.
Sheriff Kevin Schneider says he's also looking to expand programs to prevent inmates from returning to prison. That includes more education and substance abuse programs and adding mental health beds.
Sheriff Schneider says many inmates would respond well if given the benefit of the doubt.
“We want to stay smart but tough. We have victims to protect as well not just the folks that become incarcerated, there is a reason they are here, and if there is somebody that we can help and try to change their life around, we think that is the best thing possible,” said Schneider.
Sheriff Schneider says more than 1,000 inmates can be booked in the Polk County Jail on any given day.