Fifth Judicial District - Department of Correctional Services


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TITLE: Community Service Sentencing


Community Service Sentencing was developed as an alternative to traditional fines or jail terms. It is to provide for meaningful projects to be completed within the community and serve as a form of community restitution. This is done without the purpose of displacing employed workers within the non-profit or governmental agencies.


The Fifth Judicial District Community Service Sentencing Program has the responsibility to place, monitor and report on adult offenders who are required to perform community service within the district.


Offenders - Refers to adults who have been assigned or ordered to do community service by the Court or an authorized agent.

Non-Profit Agency - Refers to agencies in the community, which are open to provide services to the public and operate under the control of a board of directors, with no financial gain. Agencies must be registered with the State as a non-profit organization.

Governmental Agencies - Refers to city, county, state, or federal agencies.

CSS - Refers to Community Service Sentencing.


  1. Offender Referrals
    1. Offenders may be referred by the Court to perform a specific number of hours.
    2. Offenders may be referred for community service as a condition of probation by the Sentencing Court. Community service may also be ordered as an alternative to probation revocation.
    3. The Court may refer an offender prior to Sentencing as part of a plea agreement.
    4. The Parole Board as a condition of release may refer offenders.
    5. The Judicial District staff as an intermediate sanction may refer offenders.
    6. Community service my be explored as a means to reimburse the county of jurisdiction when an offender is not reasonably able to pay all or part of the crime victim compensation program reimbursement, public agency restitution, court costs including correctional fees approved Pursuant to Section 356.7 of the Iowa Code, court-appointed attorney fees or for the expense of a public defender.
  2. Fee Collection
    1. All Magistrate, Associate District, and District Court cases are assessed a thirty ($30) fee for each placement made by CSS unless the community service is a condition of their probation. The $300 supervision fee would cover their first placement for community service. Any subsequent placements would be assessed a thirty ($30) fee.
    2. Payment may be made by check, money order, VISA or Mastercard. An exception would be that if the offender were in court for discharge; checks would not be acceptable.
    3. A receipt is produced for each fee collection and a copy given to the offender.
    4. Fees will be deposited each weekday after 3:30 PM in the Fifth Judicial District General Fund Account at Wells Fargo.
  3. Sign Up Interview
    1. Unless extreme or out-of-district circumstances exist, a face to face in office interview is required.
    2. When possible, offenders will be interviewed and signed up directly from their court appearance. Otherwise, appointments are made to interview and complete sign-up.
    3. All pertinent information is inputted into the community service program.
    4. Explanation is given of program expectations and the consequences if they fail to complete the assigned hours.
  4. Use of Agencies
    1. Non-profit and governmental agencies are to be used when making CSS offender placement.
    2. Agencies agree to instruct, monitor, and report as required, regarding a offender's progress while performing community service. Agencies are considered to be a contract agency with the Department of Correctional Services and therefore liable for any misconduct conducted by their employees.
    3. Agencies have the final say regarding the approval of referrals from CSS.
    4. Agencies should have a "key" contact person and a "back-up" person that can be contacted when needed to verify hours for the court or Parole/Probation officer.
  5. Placement
    1. Before making a placement, staff may take into consideration several issues.
      1. Where does the offender live?
      2. Do they have transportation?
      3. What skills does the offender possess?
      4. What days and hours do they work?
      5. Do they have any personal interests?
    2. There will be no credit given for hours worked at a placement not specifically approved for that offender by the assigned CSS agent. Nor will they be allowed to work hours before being sentenced unless Court ordered to do so.
    3. Once a placement is agreed on, the staff will:
      1. Inform offender of any special conditions involved with placement (Ex: minimum number of hours per visit).
      2. Inform offender of whom they are to contact.
      3. Fill out agency time card to be sent to agency contact person (Form CSS F-2).
    4. If the offender has been placed at a community service agency and wishes to be placed elsewhere or a probationer wishes to change their placement, the offender will be assessed a $30 placement fee. If applicable, the first community service fee must be paid prior to a second placement being made.
    5. Hours may not be worked at an agency where the offender is employed or is currently volunteering.
    6. Placements with an agency where the offender has a relative or friend are to be avoided.
    7. If the offender driver's license is suspended and they qualify for a temporary restricted license, the agent may write a memo to the DOT specifying the days and hours the offender is scheduled to work CSS so that it can be added to the temporary permit.
      1. Follow-up
        1. Regular follow-up is needed to insure compliance.
          1. If spot updates are needed, the responsible agent will call the agency for the update.
        2. If agency reports are showing slow or unsatisfactory progress the agent will:
          1. Initiate offender contact to explain what needs to be done to rectify the problem, preferably by telephone. If the agent is unable to reach the offender by telephone, the agent will then send a letter or contact the probation officer for assistance if applicable.
          2. If a change of placement is required, the process is repeated and a second placement fee will be assessed.
      2. Liability
        1. The State of Iowa is exclusively liable, according to and under chapter 669, for a tortuous act committed by a defendant while performing unpaid community service.
        2. If CSS is informed of an injury to a offender while performing their community service:
          1. The State assumes liability for the purpose of worker's compensation for a person performing court ordered community service.
          2. CSS will advise the offender to seek treatment via Concentra Clinics, 2100 Dixon in Des Moines, Iowa or 11144 Aurora Avenue in Des Moines.
          3. A "First Report of Injury Form" is to be filled out by CSS staff and forwarded, along with a copy of offender's court order, to the Judicial District Personnel Technician.
      3. Close Out
        1. When a offender has fulfilled their CSS obligation, and it has been verified, a completion form will be put in their court file and a copy sent to the supervising probation officer, if applicable, and the case closed as completed.
        2. When a offender fails to comply with the community service order a FTC-Failed To Comply form will be sent to the court and the supervising probation officer, if applicable (CSS F-4).
        3. When a offender is discharged before completing community service or pays a fine in lieu of completing hours, the case is closed as "other," noting the special conditions on CSS records.

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