Governor Chet Culver has told a task force reviewing the number of minorities in juvenile detention they have two years to study the problem and come up with recommendations. Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge admits that’s a longer time frame than usual, but she says the state won’t have extra money available to tackle the problem before 2009.
“I think that we have to be realistic that there is not going to be a lot of additional money in the future for new programs at least in the next year or so as we look forward,” Judge says. “But we did begin a comprehensive pre-school program for four-year-olds last year -we want to continue that.”
Judge contends providing better access to quality preschool can lay groundwork that will help keep children out of trouble when they reach their teen years. The new “Youth, Race and Detention” task force will meet once every three months over the next two years. Minorities account for less than 10 percent of the teenage population in Iowa, yet 37 percent of the kids who’re in Iowa’s juvenile detention centers are minorities. The lieutenant governor says that’s worrisome.
“Because we are a relatively Caucasian state, I think sometimes we think we don’t have a problem here and I think people that come here from other states, people of color, will tell you that that’s not true,” Judge says.