Graham: 'I support the judge's ruling in Lewis case'

Published 5/31/2023 3:08:42 PM

Statement from Polk County Attorney Kimberly Graham on the Pieper Lewis case:

“I support the ruling of Judge Porter to suspend the prison sentence for Pieper Lewis and place her on probation, as well as order her to the Iowa Department of Correctional Services for an appropriate facility for treatment.

The State has learned a great deal from experts about the behavior of people who have been exploited, sexually abused, or trafficked. The State notes that while she left the Fresh Start Center, Ms. Lewis did not harm anyone during the time she was away from the center, and that she was found back in the same general neighborhood, sitting on a swing in a park.

The State has also learned about the likely outcomes for people who have been trafficked or exploited who are sent to prison. They are vulnerable -- and more likely to become victims again while incarcerated. They do not usually receive the kind of support and services they need to begin heal and move forward in their lives. 

Conversely, when people who have been exploited and trafficked receive the right support, they can move forward to successful lives. 

The State has carefully considered the safety of our community and the community at large and the lasting harm to Mr. Brooks and his family. In reports by two psychologists, one before the initial sentencing and one very recently, both concluded that Ms. Lewis does not display any heightened risk for physical violence. In Dr. Kinscherff’s report (July 2021), he stated, “Physical violence would be rare for an individual (incarcerated) with these scores.“

Dr. Kinscherff also stated, “Pieper is currently at very low to low risk of violent criminal perpetration in the community at baseline.”

Dr. Eiler’s report from April 2023 indicates Ms. Lewis tested within “normal limits for thoughts likely to predispose her to violent acts.” Additionally, her results on the Structured Assessment of Violence in Youth identified “age-appropriate ability to manage expressions of anger.”

In short, Ms. Lewis is not at high risk for violence. She would be especially vulnerable to being revictimized should she remain incarcerated.

Ms. Lewis has now served about three years in detention or jail.

In her April 2023 letter to court, Ms. Lewis outlined what she needs to succeed. The State believes she will succeed."