Basic services, 2017

  • Overall

    Mostly state operated

  • Detention

    Locally operated

  • Probation

    State operated

  • Reentry

    State operated

Iowa's delinquency services are organized at both the state and local level. Secure detention is administered locally by either county executive agencies or by multi-county regional commissions. 

Community supervision is administered under the state level judiciary branch, across eight districts. All clerks of court and juvenile court services personnel, including probation, are Supreme Court employees. Each district has a Chief Juvenile Court Officer, and youth are supervised by Juvenile Court Officers, who are employees of the State Supreme Court.

Parole services are administered at the judicial district level for those youth leaving state facilities.

Corrections agency, 2015

  • Independent juvenile corrections agency

  • Family/child welfare agency or division

  • Broad human services agency

  • Adult corrections agency or division

The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) administers commitments to state juvenile correctional facilities. Parole services are administered at the judicial district level for those youth leaving those facilities.

Solitary confinement, 2016

  • Prohibits punitive confinement

  • Limits punitive confinement

  • No limits on punitive confinement

  • Did not respond

Solitary confinement for punitive purposes is allowed in Iowa's juvenile correctional facilities. While no maximum time exists, juveniles must be assessed hourly for possible discharge.  (Adapted from 51 Jurisdiction Survey of Juvenile Solitary Confinement Rules in Juvenile Justice Systems, 2016. Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest at Lowenstein Sandler LLP)

Release decision, 2016

  • Agency

  • Court

  • Parole board

  • Agency and court

Youth committed to the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) are released by the committing courts. DHS makes a recommendation to the court when a youth is ready for release and the court makes the final release decision. A risk/needs instrument is not currently used to inform the release decision.

Risk assessment, 2017

Organization 2013 2017
Statewide uniform assessment
Layered/regional assessment
Locally administered assessment

In Iowa, juvenile probation is administered by the Iowa Judicial Branch across judicial districts. A court administrative policy requires the use of a risk/needs assessment. Iowa has adopted the Iowa Delinquency Assessment (IDA) is implemented statewide. Results from the IDA are used to guide diversion from formal process decisions and informal adjustment planning, develop/inform pre-disposition investigation reports and/or planning, develop probation disposition recommendations to the juvenile court, assign probation supervision level, and develop probation case plans.

The state is also able to aggregate case level data and uses it to support local reliability and validity testing of the IDA, assist with probation administration and organizational planning, and for ongoing policy research.

Risk instruments, 2017

  • Statute or agency policy

    Required by state or administrative regulation

  • Agency recommended

    Recommended by probation oversite agency

Risk instruments tool used
Iowa Delinquency Assessment

Mental health screening, 2014

Requires a research-based mental health screening

  • Secure detention

  • Probation

  • Corrections

Mental health screening tool used
Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument –Version 2 (MAYSI-2)

Iowa encourages the use of a research based mental health screening tool in corrections. The Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument, 2nd Edition (MAYSI-2) is required by Iowa Department of Human Services policy to be administered at intake at the state training school (corrections). Some detention centers use the MAYSI-2 as well but it is not a uniformly adopted practice.

The Iowa Delinquency Assessment tool, administrated at probation intake has a mental health component to it. This assessment is not a screening however.

Frameworks for evidence-based practices, 2014

  • Statute

    Supporting commitment to EBPs

  • Administrative regulations

    Either in corrections, probation, or the juvenile court

  • Support center

    Or collaboration dedicated to coordinating activities around implementing, evaluating, and sustaining EBPs

  • No stance

    No official stance on EBPs

  • Did not respond

    State did not respond to the survey

The Iowa State Juvenile Justice State Advisory Group currently coordinates evidence based practices for the state through the administration of federal Juvenile Justice Reform and Reinvestment Demonstration Program (JJRRI) grant funds. The JJRRI funds have supported the implementation of the SPEP process in Iowa, evaluating community and state run residential programs in 3 of 8 judicial districts.

State funds are hoped to fund the SPEP in the remaining districts in the future. Individual state agencies such as Juvenile Court Services and Department of Human Services have made preferences for evidence based programs and often turn to EBP registries such as Blue Prints to pick an EBP that would fit their needs.

While programs are not required to provide outcome data, they routinely do. As a result of the SPEP process, Iowa is able to inventory their evidence based programs and have plans to make outcome data for these programs publicly available in the future.

Recidivism reporting, 2016

Study populations

The group(s) of youth being studied in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • Arrest

  • Court action

  • Supervision

  • Placement

Re-offense events

Events that are used to measure recidivism in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • Arrest

  • Court action

  • Supervision

  • Placement

Follow-up periods

Details regarding the length of time and frequency that youth are tracked in states that publicly report recidivism data.

36 months


Additional levels of analysis provided in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • County

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Race/ethn.

  • Risk level

  • Initial offense

  • Re-offense

  • Prior history

The Iowa Juvenile Court Services Office publishes recidivism data for Iowa's eight most populous counties. Recidivism is defined as the number of juveniles, new to the system in the reporting year that reoffended within a 36 month period.

Data sources

State of Iowa Juvenile Delinquency Annual Statistical Report (2014)
The Iowa Juvenile Court Services Offices

About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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