Childhood Convicted: The Waiver of Iowa’s Youth to the Adult Criminal Justice System

campaign for youth justiceThis brief from the Campaign for Youth Justice, in partnership with the University of Iowa’s College of Law Community Empowerment Law Project, examines how youth in Iowa are currently waived or automatically excluded from the juvenile system and are instead placed in adult courts, jails, and prisons. While in the adult system, these youth struggle to obtain the education, treatment, and resources they need to become successful adults, and upon release are marked with an adult conviction. Under Iowa law, youth as young as 10 years old can be prosecuted in adult court and youth as young as 14 may be prosecuted, sentenced, and incarcerated as adults for any public offense.

To put Iowa’s youth on the path to productivity instead of in adult court and prison, the report recommends policy changes. These include collecting, analyzing, and publishing data on all youth in adult courts, jails, and prisons; tracking information on age, gender, race, county, offense, sentence, length of stay in jail, and the services they receive while in adult facilities; and limiting the types of offenses that may result in transfer from “any public offense” to specific offenses involving public safety concerns.