There were new promising results announced from efforts to decrease Iowa’s rates of youth detention, especially for minority youth who are overrepresented in the state’s juvenile justice system.

Statewide, Iowa has decreased its overall detention of juveniles by about 15%, especially for low-level juvenile offenders, in each of the last two years, without any impact on public safety. In Black Hawk County, detention rates of minority youth declined by more than 20% for calendar year 2008. In Polk County, minority detention declined by 23.2%, and in Woodbury County minority detention was cut by 5.2%.

Executive Order 5, signed on Oct. 30, 2007, established the Governor’s Youth, Race and Detention Task Force, administered by the Criminal Juvenile and Justice Planning Division of the Iowa Department of Human Rights.

Representative Wayne Ford of Des Moines, a key member of getting this important legislation passed, congratulated the Youth, Race and Detention Task Force on their promising initial results. “ I respect the efforts in appointing this group to look at an issue we have been facing for too long, especially toward youth and minorities,” he added.