A Response to Iowa Girls Justice Initiative Recommendations: “Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Female Offenders: Service and System Recommendations for Iowa” dated February 2017. (See https://humanrights.iowa.gov/cjjp/females-and-juvenile-justice-0/iowa-girls-justice-initiative). The IGJI recommendations begin by noting that serious, violent, and chronic juvenile female offenders are at the center of a system and service crisis in juvenile justice in Iowa. The authors of this report offer a different way to look at this “crisis”. We do not believe this “crisis” is caused by the lack of a locked or staff-secure facility for “Serious, Chronic, and Violent” girls in Iowa, as the IGJI recommendations would have you believe. Rather, we believe the “crisis” is caused by a lack of female-responsive, culturally competent, trauma-informed, treatment-oriented, developmentally appropriate services for girls across the continuum of services for ALL girls involved with the juvenile justice system.
The authors of this response recommend that one way out of this “crisis” is to provide a level of community-based services here in Iowa that is not currently a part of Iowa’s juvenile justice continuum. One such organization that provides such services would be Youth Advocacy Programs (YAP). They serve similarly situated youth quite successfully in other states that have used this organization as an alternative to the use of locked facilities. If these girls cannot be served by these community-based services at home, then the authors recommend the use of these community-based services in a therapeutic foster home or regionally based group home for the youth. These services should be properly funded by the State of Iowa.
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