The Iowa Department of Human Rights is adding a group to its juvenile justice division, a committee made up entirely of young people.

The Youth Justice Council will be made up of young people who have experience in the juvenile justice system. Kayla Powell, DHR’s Youth Development Coordinator, says young people are known to act on issues.

Powell said, “I am delighted that we can harness this energy and expertise and truly mobilize their ideas to improve the juvenile justice system in Iowa.” Since this is a new take on the state’s juvenile justice system, Powell says she is working to make sure other committees are ready to partner with young people.

Jill Padgett, a juvenile justice specialist in the department, says they don’t have all the details yet, but are working on creating some kind of guide for the group.
“I think creating this intentional space for a youth-led, youth-led subcommittee is affirming that belief that your voice is being heard, and that’s important,” says Padgett. “And it’s really up to us and decision-makers to amplify their voices.”

Padgett says part of the founding of the new group is researching how other states have been successful. The official launch date is set for the fall of this year.

(By Kassidy Arena, Iowa Public Radio)

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