By State Sen. Rich Taylor
The Chief Justice of Iowa?s Supreme Court, Mark Cady, told legislators this week that Iowans can be proud of our state?s court system, which is one of the best in the nation.
The top priorities of the Judicial Branch are ensuring public safety and protecting Iowa?s children. Since the Legislature began funding for juvenile court officers, our courts have made great strides in keeping children out of the criminal justice system and helping them succeed with increased supervision by juvenile court officers. Since 2012, the number of juveniles with criminal complaints or felony charges filed against them has dropped by 20 percent. That means Iowans are safer and more kids are headed down a successful path to adulthood.
Iowa courts also are keeping more families together with the help of family treatment courts. Family treatment courts provide intense oversight and direction for parents who?ve had drug problems and are at risk of losing their children. There are now 14 family treatment courts throughout Iowa. Because of the impressive role they?ve played in changing lives for the better, we expect to see more family treatment courts added in the future.
African Americans and other minorities make up a much higher proportion of Iowa?s justice system than they do in the general population. Iowa?s court system is taking steps to understand and address the racial disparities in our criminal justice system. These efforts have included training to help Iowa?s judges recognize biases that may contribute to those disparities, as well as how society is impacted by the disparities.
Justice Cady said that Iowa?s judges and court staff are committed to providing citizens with justice that is accessible, fair, impartial and transparent. As your state senator, I am also committed to ensuring the continued success of the Judicial Branch of Iowa?s government.
This is a legislative update from Senator Rich Taylor, representing Henry and Lee counties and portions of Washington and Jefferson counties. For newsletters, photos and further information, go to www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/taylor.
To contact Senator Taylor during session, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise he can be reached at home at 319-931-1568. E-mail him at email@example.com.
Senator Taylor is chair of the Local Government Committee. He also serves on the Economic Growth, Human Resources, Judiciary, and Justice Systems Budget committees.