Dems: Iowa courts strive for justice for all

January 18, 2016

Iowa’s courts are committed to:
• Protecting Iowa’s children
• Operating an efficient, full-service court system
• Providing faster and less costly resolution of legal disputes
• Operating in an open and transparent way
• Providing fair and impartial justice for all

In his annual Condition of the Judiciary speech last week, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady outlined how the state is accomplishing these goals.

Many children who become involved with the juvenile court system are not likely to reoffend. They primarily need direction, guidance and help with their challenges. Staff work to divert low-risk kids from juvenile court and make sure they get the services they need from the courts, law enforcement, schools and community. The vast majority of these kids do not return to court, and that’s key to giving them a better future and increasing public safety.

Family treatment courts help parents with drug problems that put them at risk of losing their children. They give parents the tools and skills to understand what it means to be good parents and how to stay away from drugs.

The Legislature has provided resources to expand family treatments courts. These successful courts have kept many parents and children together, or reunited them when the time was right. As of October, 13 family treatment courts had been established in Iowa. They’ve served 823 parents and 1,345 children.

Iowa’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African Americans. This has prompted the Judicial Branch to study why and to counteract racial disparity in our justice system. Last year, they trained 716 judges, magistrates and other Judicial Branch staff to recognize implicit biases that are contributing to racial disparities. The Chief Justice told the Legislature that he intends to continue his search for solutions.

The Judicial Branch has made many changes in recent years that better ensure justice for all Iowans and create a more transparent court system. They’ve developed specialized courts to address various types of cases; they’ve dealt with budget challenges to keep courthouses open and accessible to citizens; and they’re working to better schedule the cases that come before them.

Iowa courts are constantly striving to improve and provide us with the best system of justice in the country.

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