After a year of observing juvenile judicial hearings at the Polk County Courthouse, and identifying a 767% increase in misdemeanor holds for African American youth, AMOS leaders identified several ways to better protect youthful offenders. 200 leaders strategized about desired reforms at their 'Restorative Justice' conference, and voted to support a Polk Courthouse renovation plan, which includes several of AMOS' ideas , and which would require passage of a bond proposal in early November. The proposed plans include space for pretrial conferences and mediation; a system to keep youthful offenders away from adult offenders; discreet spaces that keep youth out of the public eye when brought into the courtroom; and a setup allowing for juveniles to sit eye-to-eye with judges in the courtroom.
Citing concerns about an exponential rise in juvenile filings and detention holds, clergy leaders of A Mid Iowa Strategy (AMOS) are calling on their County Supervisors to vote against increased funding for juvenile attorneys, calling it a "direct result of the more punitive approach" recently taken towards children. An editorial written by several clergy triggered a heated response by the County Attorney (both pieces included below).
AMOS advocates a return "to the best practice model the County Attorney's office pioneered from 2006-2009" which made good use of "informal adjustments and alternatives to detentions for non-violent, non-repeat juvenile offenders."Read more