Community Forum: Resolving Racial Disparity in Johnson County’s Youth-Serving Systems


(Source: “Resolving racial disparities in Johnson County Youth Systems community forum to be held May 29,”, 9 May 2014, by Kiran Sood)

Event Video

Below is a video recording of the event.

Event Commentary

The following is a commentary about the event by Greg Johnson, an event attendee:

This was an excellent workshop that effectively conveyed years of data and insights condensed into two hours. One could easily spend several days discussing these topics. The presenters did a good job of offering the essential details sufficient for further independent study by participants.

To summarize the presentation, our County Attorney’s office has worked with local law enforcement, education administrators, and dozens of “upstream” youth-serving agencies to see if we can reduce undesirable future outcomes (such as crime, arrest, and incarceration) by creating opportunities and support networks for at-risk-youth and their families. Youth involved with programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters are 46% less likely to use illegal drugs. It’s not surprising then, that overall, mentoring programs have been shown to reduce violent crime by 44%. This preventative approach seems to be working and costing far less than paying for incarcerating people. Johnson County now has one of the lowest incarceration rates on the planet. Given the U.S. average for incarceration, a county of similar size might have over 900 people incarcerated on any given day. So, our daily average of 127 is an accomplishment.

In the conclusion of the forum, education administrators, law enforcement officials, and those involved in juvenile justice discussed the desire to have at-risk youth connected directly to the services and support they need while skipping past any criminal charges when problems arise. The current workflow includes the costly and resource draining process of giving kids a permanent criminal record before connecting them to the services that help get them out of trouble. This new approach would correct or prevent issues without the criminal justice system being involved.

Event Details

  • Date: 29 May 2014
  • Time: 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
  • Location: 203-B of the Health and Human Services Building, 855 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City (Map)
  • Poster: See the event poster for more details (PDF File)

Event Description

This  event will inform and educate leaders and community members about racial disparities in Johnson County’s Youth Systems.

Resolving Racial Disparities in Johnson County Youth Systems will bring together representatives from the Iowa City Community School District, Juvenile Court Services, local law enforcement and the Department of Human Services to talk about current data, existing strategies and future collaborative action.

Sara Barron, community relations director of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Johnson County, said the forum is an opportunity for different youth serving systems to share information with each other.

The goal is to bring agencies together along with decision makers to get a better understanding of the current situation and how to make progress.

“We would like to be able to do something to help with efforts to reduce [racial injustice] and eliminate it,” she said. “What kind of collaborations can get us there?”

Community members who care about the issue can also come and learn more and find out how they can be a part of the solution locally, Barron said.

The forum will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on May 29 in room 203-B of the Health and Human Services Building, 855 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City. (Map)

The event is free and open to the public. The event is being organized by the Johnson County Disproportionate minority contact committee. Call 319-337-2145 for more information.

We Create Here will be there to bring community members the results of the discussion.



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Categories: Community Partners, Event, Learning Materials


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