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Juvenile Justice Task Force Final Report and Recommendations

February 9, 2023

Today, the 65-member Iowa Juvenile Justice Task Force released its final report to the Iowa Supreme Court. The report includes 55 recommendations to improve the services provided to Iowa youth in both child welfare and juvenile delinquency proceedings. The task force was cochaired by Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen and Iowa Director of Juvenile Court Services Chad Jensen.

“We are a very large, very diverse group and that is good because it brought a lot of important perspectives into the discussions,” Chief Justice Christensen said. “Although we may have come from different backgrounds and have varied experiences, ultimately we all came to the same conclusion—action is needed now to effectively meet the needs of the youth and families we all serve.”

The Iowa Supreme Court created the task force in December 2021 to review the continuum of care in Iowa’s juvenile justice system and to make recommendations to improve its services, governance, and data collection. The supreme court also asked for options to address the system’s racial and gender disparities. The task force consisted of representatives from all branches of government and parts of the juvenile justice system.

“I think the task force agreed on some very practical recommendations that can be implemented and ultimately accomplished if we all continue to work together,” task force cochair Chad Jensen said. “Many of the recommendations will require action by the supreme court or the legislature but this is an important first step towards improved outcomes for the youth in the juvenile justice system.”  

More than 120 people participated in six work groups formed by the task force. Comprised of judges, attorneys, juvenile court officers, social workers, youth and others with lived experience, legislators, treatment providers, and law enforcement, the work groups looked at services, governance, funding, and data collection. Those responsibilities are divided among three state entities: the Iowa Judicial Branch, the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, and the Iowa Department of Human Rights. Many of the recommendations call for improved collaboration and communication between the three entities.

The work of the task force is the first comprehensive, holistic review of Iowa's juvenile justice system in almost 30 years. The task force had additional assistance from law students at Drake University Law School, University of Iowa College of Law, and Creighton University School of Law.

The Iowa Juvenile Justice Task Force Final Report is available here.

For More Information:

Steve Davis
Communications Director
Iowa Judicial Branch
[email protected]

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