Juvenile arrests on the decline in northeast Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Juvenile arrests on the decline in northeast Iowa

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

The number of juveniles arrested in Iowa is on the way down. According to the Iowa Division of Criminal & Juvenile Justice Planning, the number of juvenile arrests fell 20 percent from 2007 to 2010.

Across the state the number of complaints to Juvenile Court Services was down 19 percent between 2008 and 2011.

Ruth Frush is the Chief Juvenile Court Officer for the 1st District in Iowa.

"There really isn't one reason why kids get in trouble with the law. If anything I'd say it's because their brain is developing. They don't fully comprehend consequences," said Frush.

Frush says the 1st District is seeing an even larger decrease than state numbers.

"For our 11 counties we've actually seen a decrease in about 30 percent in both the number of juveniles and number of complaints," said Frush.

The number of complaints in the 1st District decreased from almost 4,000 in 2007 to 2,700 in 2011. The number of juveniles referred also decreased from almost 2,700 in 2007 to around $1,900 in 2011.

As for why there are fewer juveniles in courtrooms like this one. Local officials say it might have something to do with number of programs that were initiated not too long ago. In 2007, the 1st District started a concerted effort to used evidence based practices to make decisions on how to handle juvenile complaints.

"Once they've come into the system, they are diverted a lot of times way from the system in terms if they're simple misdemeanors. If they're young children, if there are mental health issues, we try to connect them to other resources rather than bring them into the criminal system for services," said Frush.

The report also says the number of juveniles tried in adult courts dropped a total of 75 cases, from 2008 to 2011.

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