[Source: “Justice center needs your support,” Press Citizen, 2 May 2013, by Patrick R. Grady, Chief Judge, Sixth Judicial District]
Last fall, I wrote about how our caseloads continue to grow in what now is the fifth most populous county in Iowa. Since last fall, we have listened to the voters and have downsized our proposal by 48 jail beds and deferred two additional courtrooms planned for immediate construction. The current proposal now is even more modest and practical than before.
Those who criticize this proposal miss some salient facts:
- Judges do not consider jail or prison space when we decide whether to incarcerate someone. It is not legally relevant.
- The Sixth Judicial District, which includes Johnson County, has among the lowest incarceration rates in Iowa. Existing alternatives to incarceration programs are a large part of this.
- The needs of Johnson County’s court system will continue to grow as its population increases. This growth has resulted in another magistrate position being transferred to Johnson County to address the growing caseload. Sadly, we do not have the space in the Johnson County Courthouse to fully utilize that magistrate.
The challenges resolved by the proposed justice center will not go away if it is not approved. They will just become more expensive to taxpayers and result in more delays for litigants.
I ask you to support the justice center proposal.
Patrick R. Grady
Sixth Judicial District