Branstad: Iowa needs to move away from corrections mentality

But governor noncommittal on opening another juvenile home in state

Mike Wiser
Published: February 17 2014 | 1:32 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 3:46 am in
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Gov. Terry Branstad said he is “pleased” lawmakers are no longer insisting on reopening the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo.

But the governor deflected questions on whether delinquent girls should be put in another state-run group home.

“I think, philosophically, we need to go away from this corrections mentality and instead go to an idea of how we can provide the best treatment, support and to help these kids that are troubled, that need assistance,” Branstad said during his weekly news conference on Monday. “I don’t think it needs to be a particular institution or one-size-fits-all. I think it could be a combination of things.”

The governor ordered the home closed in January after an advocacy group went public with information about residents being held in isolation for long periods of time.

The home’s residents were sent to private homes for care, and three state lawmakers plus the president of the state’s largest public employee union sued.

Last week, Branstad appealed a decision by a Polk County judge who ordered the home reopened.

Iowa Juvenile Court officers have pushed for a facility that could house 20 teenage girls who have committed a crime and would otherwise be sent to prison.

Meanwhile, an Iowa Senate committee is expected to meet this week on a bill, Senate File 2084, which calls for a state-run facility to treat delinquent girls.

It made it through subcommittee last week, but it doesn’t require the facility to be in Toledo.

“I’m pleased that they have recognized that they shouldn’t be focusing on the institution,” Branstad said when asked about the Senate bill. “The focus needs to be on providing the best treatment and the best education for the kids. That was denied them at Toledo.”

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