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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

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By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

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By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Task force studies Iowa’s juvenile detention centers

By Dana Boone | 08.25.08 | 7:33 am

Officials from the Iowa Juvenile Detention Association painted a rosy picture of Iowa’s 11 juvenile detention centers for members of Gov. Chet Culver’s Youth Race and Detention Task Force.

But, officials said they couldn’t explain why a disproportionate number of their detainees are minorities – at a time when the number of youth overall in the facilities appears to be decreasing.

Third District Associate Court Judge Todd Hensley from Sioux City, one of about 25 members of the task force who met Thursday at Iowa Workforce Development, asked the officials for insights into why the numbers aren’t decreasing for minorities.

“It hasn’t changed,” said Scott Reed, program administrator for the Polk County Juvenile Detention Center in Des Moines.

“The minority issue is huge,” he added. “It needs more discussion.”

The task force, which was created last year, is studying the racial disparities in the juvenile justice system and will make recommendations to Culver in 2009. The 40-member group includes judges, juvenile court officers, child advocates and others.

Between 40 and 50 percent of the youth detained in Polk County belong to a minority group, Reed said. The facility, which is staffed to house 33 youth, had a 35 percent recidivism rate from July 2007 through June 2008, he said.

Reed, who is also vice president of the Iowa Juvenile Detention Association, said more alternatives to detention are needed before a youth is sent to a detention center. The centers don’t have a big impact on who is detained because courts order youth for detention, Reed said.

The state’s facilities, which are comprised of county facilities and regional facilities that serve multiple counties, are staffed to serve about 240 youth, but the facilities can hold more youth, officials said. Officials also expressed concerns about potential closures of regional centers that serve multiple counties.

Detention centers provide a range of services, including multiple health assessments and year round classrooms. The facilities also provide a long list of other services, such as suicide assessments, dental screenings and religious services. Officials said they deal with a few suicide attempts from youth and are quick to monitor youth who exhibit signs they may harm themselves.

“Unlike most states, we do not just lock up our youth,” Reed said. “We take an opportunity to teach.”

Staff talk with youth about their behaviors and try to ward off problems, he said. In severe instances, some youth must be physically restrained, he said. Reed said there were 41 physical restraints last year in Polk County, which had decreased from previous years. He did not provide comparative data. He attributed the drop to improved training techniques.

Reed said the public has some misperceptions about detention centers. He said more discussion is necessary about what to do with youth if detention isn’t an option, such as “in-home detention.”

“We’re not a jail and a lot of people perceive us in that way,” he said. “We provide a whole slate of services.”

The task force also has created a committee that is gearing up to write the comprehensive report that is due next year to Culver’s office.

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