Juvenile justice process is rather different in different states of the USA though it concerns the same issue in all the areas of the country. In accordance with the laws of a particular state, there exist laws of the juvenile justice process. One of the states in the USA is Iowa, and it also has its juvenile justice system with a specific process.
The Iowa Code Chapter 216A, Subchapter 9 predetermines that the division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning is provided within the Department of Human Rights. The Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning (CJJP) is a part of the Justice Research and Statistics Association (JRSA) that provides such services as program development and data and policy analysis, implements activities to help policymakers, carries out researches and identifies issues that require improvements in order to enhance the effectiveness of Iowa’s justice system.
The effectiveness of CJJP performance is controlled by the Iowa Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning Advisory Council, which monitors whether CJJP carries out its duties and obligations in accordance with the established norms and standards. In Section 428 of the Iowa Administrative Code, one can find the administrative rules that are used by CJJP to govern its projects and grants.
The strategies of the juvenile justice process in Iowa include enhancement strategy, family involvement, technical and training assistance, and continuous quality improvement. The Iowa Department of Human Rights and the Office of State Court Administration received a Community and Strategic Planning grant in order to improve the strategies towards addressing the issues of minors at various points of the decision-making process in Iowa’s criminal behavior system. The goal of this grant is to provide changes and introduce a strategic plan in order to minimize the level of delinquency in Iowa’s court system. Taking into consideration the terms of this grant, SCA has created the Advisory Committee that has to monitor the project and guide the development of the strategic plan. The CASP strategic plan includes such documents as Woodbury County Detention Reform Report, CASP Curriculum, DST Validation, Black Hawk County Detention Reform Report and American Institutes for Research Report.
The juvenile justice system in Iowa has a lot of various terms. In order to understand the process of the system, it is necessary to be acquainted with some of them. First and foremost, it is important to know what a juvenile delinquency case is. It is a criminal case where an individual who bears responsibility for the crime is a minor. However, there is a great difference between a juvenile delinquency case and an adult criminal case. In contrast to adult criminal cases, in juvenile delinquency cases, minors are not criminals; therefore, they are not sentenced to punishment. Instead, minors are represented as adjudicated criminals, which means that a judge takes into consideration all the evidence that exists and finds out that the minor really committed the crime and the accusation is grounded. Nevertheless, even after that, the minor is not sentenced. The judge claims that there is a need to conduct a disposition trial. Among the alternatives that the court may order, one can find trial or residency in the residential cure, foster heed, or a public institution. The main aim of such alternatives is offering particular services that will help to avert potential delinquencies.
One should remember that some disobedience to the law is not held by a juvenile court. For instance, such disobedience as tobacco and traffic felonies, veto and snowmobile commandments, and disobedience to the laws of fishing and haunting are not handled by a juvenile court. The reason is that such violations are considered to be simple misdemeanors. Instead of a juvenile court, a magistrate court copes with such types of law violation cases.
One more important point is that a minor can be further sent to an adult court. However, in order to make such a decision, the juvenile court should conduct a waiver trial to come to a conclusion if there is a need to send the minor to the adult court. Such a decision may be made due to two main conditions. The first one is the involvement of vicious behavior that is against the law in a case. The second condition is the age of a minor; in order to send him or her to an adult court, the minor should be at least at the age of 14. Regarding minors who are sixteen years old and more and committed a violent offense, they are automatically tried not in a juvenile court but in an adult one.
The law of Iowa states that forcible lawbreaking generally stands for a violent offense. Among such forcible lawbreaking, one may find intentional homicide, murder, sexual abuse, and physical attacks that cause serious injuries. In case a minor goes directly to an adult court, he or she may be moved to a juvenile court after a trial. Besides, there are cases when a minor may be taken into detention by law enforcement because of the nature of the criminal act or in case the minor is a fugitive.
Regarding the right to a lawyer, one can state that a minor has it throughout the whole juvenile process. Moreover, the court provides a child with a lawyer in case a child or his/her parents cannot afford one.
One of the steps in juvenile delinquency cases is an intake, which means that an officer of a juvenile court collects all possible records, details, and information that have any relation to the case. This is a selection of the case by a minor court officer. This may be derived from a complaint to the court, a police statement, or due to a minor’s arrest. Obviously, an intake officer has some particular obligations. First and foremost, he or she must interview an individual who informed about the crime, an injured party of the crime, and the witnesses of the assumed felonious act. The next responsibility of an intake officer is checking various types of recordings, including public, court and police ones, holding various conferences with the minor and his or her parents or a parent. Custody or guardianship is also one of the obligations of an intake officer. An intake officer also must consider any physical facts that are significant for the case. In addition, in order to come to a decision whether filing a law-breaking formal request is in the best concerns of both the community and the minor, an officer must interrogate other people. Finally, an intake officer must decide whether there is a sufficient amount of information for filing an appeal. Further, he or she takes the case to the subsequent step.
Besides, a case may be redirected to an informal regulation or a juvenile officeholder may file a delinquency appeal. Right after it is filed, it goes an arbitration trial where a judge concludes if a minor really committed the crime for which he/she is blamed. Otherwise, the case can be discharged. However, if the judge decides that the child really committed the crime, a disposition trial takes place. As a result, the court offers treatment or probation for the child who committed a crime.
Adjudication is the court hearing which decides whether the introduced pieces of evidence support allegations or not. In this process, the state is represented by the county attorney and a child is represented by the child attorney. The county attorney and the state attorney provide evidence in order to demonstrate their position in the case. The judge has to decide whether this case should be alleged as a juvenile act. If the judge does not allege it, then the case will be dismissed. However, if the judge takes a positive decision, then the case will go on to disposition.
Disposition is the hearing where the court makes a decision what is the best treatment that is necessary to be taken towards a child. For instance, a court may decide in favor of probation. A child will be under control of a juvenile court officer who will supervise a child during the entire period of probation. A child will have specific terms and conditions that depend on an individual’s case. If a child ends the probation successfully, the court will close the case. However, if a child fails the probation, the court has the right to make a new disposition.
Besides probation, the court may choose another disposition. For instance, a child may be placed in foster care or a state training school. If a child has mental problems, he/she may be placed in a state institution that treats mental illnesses. In addition, a child may be placed in a residential treatment program. A child may be also released into the care of a guardian or a parent, but it may be another parent, not the one who was before the case was started. Finally, the court may make parents participate in the treatment and training process of their child.
Another significant aspect of the juvenile justice system in the state of Iowa is an informal adjustment, which is known as the way of resolving a complaint without appealing to the court. In order to take this step, a child and his or her parents need to sign a so-called contract where the child admits his/her participation in the suspected criminal act. The above-mentioned agreement may oblige a child to be taken charge of by a juvenile trial officer. Besides, signing this agreement, a minor acquires the right to get any necessary services, including treatment. The next obligation of a minor in this case is to refrain from driving for a particular time. Moreover, the agreement states that a child must do some community service. Otherwise, he or she will have to pay compensation either to the court or to the injured party. If an informal adjustment has no power in the juvenile’s case, the county legal representative will have to file a formal request.
Taking into account all the information that is stated above, one can see that the juvenile justice process in the state of Iowa resembles juvenile justice systems in other states. However, it has some particular differences due to the peculiarities of the laws of the state. The whole process of juvenile justice can be both compared and contrasted to the ones in other states. Nevertheless, some specific details are totally different; for instance, the strategies of the juvenile justice processes in different states of the country.