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Youth Justice Council added to state Human Rights Department

DES MOINES — 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 comprised of youth who have had experience in the juvenile justice system. Kayla Powell, the DHR’s youth development coordinator, says young people are known for taking action on issues.

Powell says, “I’m excited that we’ll be able to resource that energy and resource that expertise and really mobilize their ideas to get a better juvenile justice system in Iowa.” Since it’s a new approach to the state’s juvenile justice system, Powell says she’s working on making sure other committees are ready to partner with youth.

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

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

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