"We're just slapping them on the wrist and giving them access to new victims." Allison grew up in the Des Moines area and attended high school in Saydel, a district wedged between Ankeny and Des Moines.She was involved in sports — basketball, track and golf — and DECA, an organization that prepares students for careers in marketing, finance and business.
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Yet, the 35-year-old is finding unexpected opposition to her crusade for tougher sentences for repeat violent offenders, both from lawmakers and a key coalition against domestic violence.
Allison's stance runs contrary to efforts around the nation to reduce or eliminate mandatory minimum sentences that advocates say are clogging prisons. "It's crazy to me that we're letting out violent offenders who have proven over and over and over again that they are violent and are willing to be violent in the future and are not responding to rehabilitation," she said.
Domestic abuse survivor and keynote speaker Tiffany Allison of Des Moines speaks at a vigil honoring victims of domestic violence hosted by the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center at St.
Paul Lutheran Church in Fort Dodge, Iowa Thursday, Oct. Scott Wayne Parks told Tiffany Allison he loved her, yet for 4½ hours in September 2009, he savagely bit and beat her, striking her over and over with a wrought-iron cross until it eventually broke.
The following week, she abandoned her career in mortgage banking and enrolled in a college criminal justice program.
She decided to make it her mission to push for changes in Iowa's sentencing laws that she believes would keep violent habitual offenders from victimizing more women.
Allison called the Iowa Department of Corrections and complained about the state's "good time" policy that lets inmates out early for good behavior.
Iowa's policy is among the most generous in the country.
In general, for every day served, offenders can receive 1.2 days off their sentence for good behavior.
She learned the only way to change state law was through legislative action. I knew I had to do something about this, and I knew my 8-to-5 job was not going to allow me to do the things that I really felt that I needed to do." Allison also knew she didn't have a good grasp of criminal law, so with little in savings, she enrolled in Des Moines Area Community College's criminal justice program. As Allison crusaded to change Iowa's sentencing laws, sentiment was growing that too many people were incarcerated.
For Allison, that bitter realization changed everything.