© 2023 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Juvenile Justice Division Announces New Youth-Directed Council

The 'Youth Justice Council' is set to officially launch in fall 2021.
Gaelle Marcel
The 'Youth Justice Council' is set to officially launch in fall 2021.

The new group's working title is the 'Youth Justice Council.' As of now, some specifics are still in the works, but the council will be made up entirely of youth who have had experience in the juvenile justice system.

It will be added as a new subcommittee under the Juvenile Justice Advisory Council within the Iowa Department of Human Rights.

That council oversees the state's compliance with the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. Other subcommittees under the council include the Disproportionate Minority Contact subcommittee (DMC) and the Iowa Task Force for Young Women.

Kayla Powell, the Youth Development Coordinator for the juvenile justice planning division, described young people as those who take action.

“And so I'm excited that we'll be able to resource that energy and resource expertise and really mobilize their ideas to get a better juvenile justice system in Iowa," Powell said.

She said the idea for the new council came from the belief that "those who are closest to the issues are the ones who are closest to the solutions, but are often the ones farthest from the resources and power."

According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention within the U.S. Department of Justice, Iowa's commitment rate for children aged 10 to "upper age" in 2017 was 77 per 100,000. That's compared to the national rate of 85 per 100,000.

Since it’s a new approach to the state’s juvenile justice system, Powell said she is working on making sure other committees are ready to work with youth. The 'Youth Justice Council' will partner closely with the DMC and the Task Force for Young Women.

Powell said the youth council will pay its participants.

"Just want to make sure that we are having the same respect. And then understanding that lived experience is an expertise that should be compensated for," Powell said.

They don’t yet have all the details, but they are working on creating a sort of guidebook for the small group. The loose plan is to include at least nine youth between the ages of 14 and 26.

Juvenile Justice Specialist Jill Padgett said the youth council will allow all stakeholders to have a voice in policy making.

“I think, by creating this intentional space for a youth-driven, youth-directed subcommittee, it's affirming that belief that your voice is heard, and it matters," Padgett said. "It's really up to us and up to the decision makers to amplify their voices.”

Padgett said part of the foundation for the new subcommittee is researching how other states have been successful.

As of now, the official launch date is set for fall of 2021.

Kassidy was a reporter based in Des Moines