A study finds Iowa has the highest rate among all states for detaining black youth, and that disparity will be one focus of an event today examining racial inequalities in the criminal justice system.
Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, founded the Iowa Summit on Justice and Disparities. She says the racial disparity among youth is tied to the disproportionate number of black adults in Iowa jails. Andrews says, “Studies show that having an experience with the juvenile justice system exponentially increases the risk for being involved in the criminal justice system as people become adults.”
According to The Sentencing Project, Iowa detains black youth in juvenile facilities at a rate more than double the national average. Four percent of Iowans are black, but blacks make up 25 percent of the state’s prison population. The Sentencing Project report says black Iowans are being incarcerated at nine times the rate of white Iowans.
“When we look at those stats, behind those stats are individuals and behind those individuals are families,” she says. Another focus of the summit will be the influence of prosecutors and county attorneys on racial disparities in the justice system. This is the ninth year for the Iowa Summit on Justice and Disparities. It will be held at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny.
(By Grant Gerlock, Iowa Public Radio)