Iowa Sees Significant Reduction in Youth Detention

Posted December 7, 2012
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Iowa has reduced its deten­tion holds, defined as inci­dents of release, by 47% for African-Amer­i­can youth and by 35% for all youth since 2007, an accom­plish­ment state offi­cials say has got­ten a major boost from the intro­duc­tion of JDAI that year.

Chief Judge Duane HoffmeyerThese are the most dra­mat­ic deten­tion reduc­tions Iowa has seen in the last 20 years,” said Duane Hoffmey­er, chief judge of Iowa’s Third Judi­cial Dis­trict Court. That we have been able to near­ly halve our deten­tion holds for African-Amer­i­can youth with­out com­pro­mis­ing pub­lic safe­ty makes it all the more noteworthy.” 

Iowa’s state-lev­el JDAI activ­i­ties have includ­ed the use of a state over­sight com­mit­tee, imple­men­ta­tion of a sin­gle deten­tion-screen­ing instru­ment uti­lized in three local sites, and the analy­sis of local deten­tion data. We’ve been able to allo­cate resources for the reg­u­lar pro­vi­sion of data,” said Paul Stage­berg, admin­is­tra­tor for the Depart­ment of Human Rights, Divi­sion of Crim­i­nal and Juve­nile Jus­tice Planning. 
The abil­i­ty for the sites to mon­i­tor their progress has been an impor­tant part of this work. That’s been a key aspect of the reductions.” 

JDAI oper­ates in Black Hawk, Polk, and Wood­bury coun­ties, said Stage­berg. Black Hawk and Polk have reduced holds for Cau­casian and African-Amer­i­can youth by 50% or more, he said. Wood­bury has reduced holds for African-Amer­i­can youth by 44%. Stage­berg attrib­uted the local JDAI suc­cess to strong col­lab­o­ra­tions and lead­er­ship, con­sis­tent staff sup­port, and the will­ing­ness to uti­lize local deten­tion alternatives. 

I’ve appre­ci­at­ed the frame­work and struc­ture that we’ve had from the JDAI mod­el,” said David Gleis­er, local coor­di­na­tor in Wood­bury County. 

The coun­ty has tak­en advan­tage of infor­ma­tion and tools from the train­ings and tech­ni­cal assis­tance, he said. It has also ben­e­fit­ed from the expe­ri­ences of oth­er sites as it strug­gled through var­i­ous imple­men­ta­tion issues. It’s then a mat­ter of tak­ing advan­tage of the resource infor­ma­tion through the Casey con­sul­tants or the JDAI Help Desk,” said Gleiser.”

Non-JDAI coun­ties such as John­son, Linn, and Scott coun­ties are expe­ri­enc­ing reduc­tions sim­i­lar to those in the JDAI coun­ties, said Stage­berg. He not­ed that in 2007, Juve­nile Court Ser­vices began imple­ment­ing a com­pre­hen­sive risk/needs-assess­ment instru­ment, the Iowa Delin­quen­cy Assess­ment (IDA), on youth at intake and peti­tion. Some juris­dic­tions are uti­liz­ing risk scores from the IDA to screen deten­tion admis­sions, he said. 

Uti­liza­tion of the IDA, imple­men­ta­tion of local best prac­tices, includ­ing Func­tion­al Fam­i­ly Ther­a­py and Aggres­sion Replace­ment Train­ing, as well as oth­er local deten­tion alter­na­tives have all con­tributed to deten­tion reduc­tions,” said Stage­berg. We think the JDAI effort and the state-lev­el activ­i­ties have pro­vid­ed a good push, but it’s clear that efforts beyond JDAI are con­tribut­ing as well. We’re pleased to have the num­bers going in the right direction.”

This post is related to:

Popular Posts

View all blog posts   |   Browse Topics

Youth with curly hair in pink shirt

blog   |   June 3, 2021

Defining LGBTQ Terms and Concepts

A mother and her child are standing outdoors, each with one arm wrapped around the other. They are looking at each other and smiling. The child has a basketball in hand.

blog   |   August 1, 2022

Child Well-Being in Single-Parent Families