Juvenile Detention Centers (Iowa)

by Tashia Young
Criminology and Criminal Justice
Faculty advisor: Dr. Neal McNabb

The purpose of this project is to illustrate one type of community corrections option utilized in the State of Iowa, the juvenile detention center (JDC).  Currently, a total of eleven JDCs are located throughout the eight judicial districts.  Although each facility operates under a different philosophy, most wish to provide public safety, stabilize behavior, and provide a safe and secure environment.  Several factors are taken into consideration when a judge is deciding whether or not to securely detain a youth including: age, attitude, mental capacity/health, and the seriousness and type of offense.  The popularity of JDCs has grown as a result of the “get tough” crime policies of the 1990s which resulted in more juveniles being detained by the criminal justice system.  The focus of JDCs is rehabilitation through a variety of programs including: anger management, life skills training, schooling/study groups, and community service. The county governments in which the centers are located are primarily responsible for the funding and operation of the centers.  It is interesting to note that although there has been a national decrease in the number of juvenile crimes in recent decades, the use of JDCs in Iowa increased 87.8 percent between FY 1993 and FY 2002.  No independent research of JDCs in Iowa has been conducted to assess their effectiveness (whether or not they are actually accomplishing their intended goals and objectives).