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Mayor says juvenile assessment center needed in Davenport

December 21, 2018

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — The Quad-Cities area should establish a juvenile assessment center that can offers offenders and their families easy access to the resources they need, according to Davenport’s mayor.

Mayor Frank Klipsch made the suggestion while discussing a months-long effort that looked at ways to reduce youth violence and car thefts. The effort included a community-wide study from juvenile criminal justice experts, law enforcement leaders, social service providers and public officials, the Quad-City Times reported.

Klipsch outlined steps already underway, including better information sharing among law enforcement agencies and the upgrade of a phone application that connects people with existing social services.

But he said more needs to be done, including establishing a facility specifically for juvenile offenders.

“Instead of just taking (juvenile offenders) to the jail, you take them to the center. They get an assessment and find out what that child needs — it (still) may be detention and incarceration,” Klipsch said, but added that incarceration oftentimes only teaches youth “to be better criminals.”

Juvenile justice became a top issue this summer after a spike in vehicle thefts and the high-profile shooting death of Jovantia Jones, a teenager whose killing remains unsolved. City and community leaders held a series of discussions that resulted in the mayor’s report.

Overall, juvenile crime has dropped 32 percent across Scott County, according to data shared this week. But the mayor acknowledged that car theft is still “a major challenge.”

“If you’re out there with your car being stolen, you’re not too excited about that statistic. We understand that,” Klipsch said. “There’s a lot of work behind the scenes that had been done and is continuing.”

Scott Hobart, the top court officer for juveniles in Scott County, said the court system has programs to prevent juveniles from re-offending. But he said there was room for improvement.

“A cycle of punitive accountability without any intervention is just a cycle of incarceration, release, re-offense,” Hobart said. “We’ve got to intervene.”

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Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com

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