Today, in response to the Iowa Girls Justice Initiative report covering recommendations to improve services to Iowan girls in the juvenile justice system, Youth First released the following statement:
“While Youth First applauds the State of Iowa for making an effort to learn more about how and why girls enter the juvenile justice system, we disagree with the Taskforce’s recommendation to build another secure facility to hold young girls behind bars,” said Liz Ryan, president and CEO of Youth First. “Instead, Iowa should follow the lead of states that have had more rehabilitative success by closing youth prisons and investing in more effective and efficient community-based alternatives to incarceration.
“To keep Iowa youth safe, promote rehabilitation, and protect the public, the state must work with the communities most impacted by youth crime and incarceration. The first step is to redirect funds from prisons to community-based treatment programs that have been proven to help girls at every stage of the juvenile justice system receive competent treatment that is geared towards their health, developmental, and cultural needs. We urge Iowa to consider the specific needs of the girls they serve as they work to improve juvenile justice outcomes across the state.”