DRI News

A Response to Iowa Girls Justice Initiative Recommendations

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.

Read the Response to Iowa Girls Justice Initiative Recommendations February 2017


In Jail and Out of Options: An Examination of the Systemic Issues affecting the Housing and Treatment of Iowans with Mental Illness in County Jails.

DRI is proud to release  “In Jail and Out of Options: An Examination of the Systemic Issues affecting the Housing and Treatment of Iowans with Mental Illness in County Jails.” This report, comprised of three parts, describes how individuals with mental illness have come to end up in county jails, how they are treated while they are incarcerated in these facilities, and what community stakeholders around Iowa are doing to combat this problem.

Find the full report here.

DRI files amicus (friend-of-the-court brief with the Iowa Supreme Court

On August 31st, 2016 DRI filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief with the Iowa Supreme Court in support of an employee with mental illness.  The case is about licensed mental health professionals, who worked for Magellan, directing hatred and ridicule towards another coworker who was suffering from major depression, the same type of serious mental illnesses for which their member-patients needed their help. They created a hostile environment when she tried to return to work after taking medical leave to cope with and recover from her depression. The brief deals with the stigma of mental illness in the workplace and society at large.


Click here for the Full Amicus brief.


DRI is now on YouTube

Disability Rights IOWA (DRI) now has a YouTube channel, featuring brief Q&A videos that will answer many of the questions that Social Security beneficiaries have about returning to work and benefits planning.

Check out our YouTube channel here!

Senator Harkin Visits with DRI Staff

On Friday, September 13, 2013, staff at DRI spent a wonderful afternoon discussing our work with Senator Tom Harkin.  Topics included Sheltered workshops, PASRR, voting, Olmstead and our work in institutions throughout the State of Iowa.

Photo of Disability Rights Iowa staff with Senator Tom Harkin.

BACK ROW (from left to right): John Gish, Linda Firkins, Mark Leamen, John TenPas, Nathan Kirstein, Charlene Joens, Scott Lyon. MIDDLE (from left to right): Jean Herrity, Katie Vande Vorde, Jane Hudson, Jayna Grauerholz, Sen. Tom Harkin. FRONT (from left to right): Beth Rydberg, Emmanuel Smith, Cyndy Miller, Hope Richardson.