Truth in sentencing: Man sentenced to a 20 year mandatory sentence could get out decades earlier

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 10:35 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A Cedar Rapids domestic abuse survivor is worried about what might happen if her estranged husband was to get out of prison years earlier than the mandatory sentence he received.

In January 2019, Tabitha Brocks was outside of her Cedar Rapids apartment in the early morning hours when her husband, Nathan Brocks, started assaulting her. Nathan had only been out of prison for three days for abusing her previously.

“He was punching me, banging my head against the steering wheel,” said Tabitha. “I tried to put the car in reverse quickly, but he jumped in the backseat and grabbed me by the hair and by my throat.”

She said the fight didn’t stop there as Nathan dragged her back into her home. It wasn’t until she maced him that she was able to run to neighbors for help.

“He ran out of the apartment and jumped right over the couch,” she said. “He grabbed me by my hair and banged it against the wall. There was blood everywhere, and I just grabbed the mace and sprayed him. I held the button down, and I didn’t let go.”

The beating left Tabitha fearful to even testify against Nathan, but she did. She helped convict him of burglary, kidnapping, and domestic abuse. In 2020, a judge sentenced him to 40 years in prison. Iowa law required him to serve at least half that, 20 years. It wasn’t until earlier this year that she learned he would be eligible for parole after only serving 9 years.

“It terrifies me,” she said. “I’m scared of what he might do next.

“There’s no truth in sentencing,” said Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks.

Maybanks prosecuted the Brocks case. He said ‘earned time’ is like good behavior meant to encourage inmates to take part in rehabilitation. He argued it wasn’t meant for violent and repeat meant for violent and repeat offenders like Brocks.

“The earned time credit should be eliminated for mandatory minimums sentences, particularly when it involves prior offenders,” said Maybanks. “We need assurance that these individuals were taken to trial and sentenced and that they remain in custody.”

Maybanks plans to ask lawmakers to change that law in January. Meanwhile, the fear was returning for Tabitha. She worried about what happens when the man who nearly killed her got out of prison more than a decade earlier than she expected.

“He’s just a terrifying person, and he needs to stay where he’s at,” said Tabitha.