DES MOINES Fewer young Iowans are entering the juvenile justice system, according to statewide data released today by the Iowa Department of Human Rights' Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning (CJJP).
In recent years juvenile arrests decreased 20 percent (2007-2011) and complaints to Juvenile Court Services were down 19 percent (2008-2011). "This means fewer youth are committing crimes, the number of youth in the juvenile justice system is down, and we are seeing more success with youth in the system," said CJJP Administrator Paul Stageberg.
Another encouraging statistic shows a decrease in the number of youth held in detention facilities a 29 percent reduction among all youth between 2007 and 2011. That reduction is even greater 38 percent for African American youth.
Experts in the field credit a research-based approach to some of the growing success. "We actively assess and case plan for these youth through the Iowa Delinquency Assessment, and that's allowing us a research based approach to ensure community safety and identify the issues facing these youth and their families," said Candice Bennett, Chief Juvenile Officer. "We're also serving these youth in their home communities with evidence based programs such as functional family therapy and aggression replacement training. The combined efforts are helping bring down the numbers," said Bennett. Her office supervises delinquent youth in Iowa's Sixth Judicial District in the Northeast area of Iowa (Cedar Rapids).
CJJP is providing the data in its newly-released Three-year Plan. The plan details how to best spend federal dollars aimed at preventing juvenile delinquency and juvenile detentions and providing services through local juvenile service offices. In order to continue showing improvement, experts in Iowa's juvenile justice field identified these priority areas:
Youth development and district and community planning
Mental health/substance abuse
Disproportionate minority contact (minority youth in the juvenile justice system)
Gender issues (girls in the juvenile justice system)
Transitioning juvenile offenders
Evaluation, compliance monitoring and research
The priorities for positive youth development were identified by Iowa's Juvenile Justice Advisory Council, whose membership includes judges, chief juvenile court officers, youth service agency officials, educators, and citizens. The Three-year Plan is intended to guide policy within the juvenile justice system.
Read the Three-year Report here: www.humanrights.iowa.gov/cjjp/images/pdf/2012_3YearPlan.pdf
Learn more about the juvenile justice priority areas here: www.humanrights.iowa.gov/cjjp/images/pdf/2012_priority_areas%20-%20three_year_plan.pdf