It’s a program of the Iowa International Center, where Janet Norton oversees the International Visitors Programs. “They were selected to come and learn basically a best practices type of program. So, they’re meeting with a broad range of individuals involved in the judiciary in one fashion or another to discuss various aspects of how the courts run here,” Norton says.
They are observing the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in Des Moines and Iowa 5th District Court in action. They are also meeting with the Iowa State Bar Association and faculty and students from Drake University Law School and the Drake Legal Clinic, and are visiting the Polk County Jail.
Norton says they are also sharing some things about their system. She says from what she’s heard there are some similarities in the types of cases that come through the court. And she says there are some differences in how cases make their way through the court.
“They are working on developing more of a juvenile court system in Kazakhstan and focusing on young people’s issue, as apposed to the standard courts,” according to Norton. “They have some type of juvenile system currently, but they are looking at expanding.” Norton says it has been interesting to see them talk with their American counterparts about the system.
“They witnessed the sentencing of someone who had been brought up on drug charges. And there was a conversation around the rate of incarceration, the number of people being sent to prison, and the differences between the two countries,” Norton says. “I found it interesting that they said in Kazakhstan their rate of incarceration is lower.” The group visited Washington, D.C. before coming to Iowa and is set to return home on Sunday.