The Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court spoke about racial disparity and human trafficking today during his annual update on the court system.
Chief Justice Mark Cady told lawmakers and the governor he is pleased with their response after he highlighted the issue in his State of the Judiciary address last year. Cady says the court system has been working on its own efforts to make changes.
“Last year the judicial branch trained 716 judges, magistrates and court staff to recognize implicit biases that may contribute to racial disparities,” Cady says. He talked about action underway in the juvenile justice system. “Three counties — Johnson, Linn, and Scott –are collaborating with Georgetown University on juvenile court pilot projects,” Cady explains, “These
projects seek to eliminate racial disparity in the juvenile justice system and its adverse consequences to our state. “
He says the Georgetown pilot project in Johnson County has reduced school referrals to juvenile court by 61 percent. Cady says a lot of work is being done, but more remains.
“Racial disparity is a community problem requiring community solutions. Our journey to identify and eliminate racial disparity continues for all of us,” Cady says.
The state’s top judge also talked about human trafficking. “We can no longer view human trafficking as a problem reserved to major cities in America. It exists as a dark underworld in many communities across Iowa and is associated with some of Iowa’s most iconic places and events,” according to Cady.
He says the state has to continue efforts to combat the crime. “There is no justice when children are abused and exploited. A prompt, comprehensive, and coordinated effort is needed to identify victims of human trafficking and provide the services and protection they need,” Cady says.
He says he’s encouraged and grateful for the response to this problem from the governor, lawmakers as well as state and local law enforcement. The court system is working to better deal with the victims.
“Last month, the judicial branch provided training on human trafficking to judges, juvenile court officers, law enforcement, and others,” Cady says. “This training will allow our judges and juvenile court officers to better address the human trafficking cases that are emerging in our courts. We are also exploring how best to enable judges and juvenile court officers to work with the victims of human trafficking.”
Cady has been the chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court since 2011.