Scott County Sheriff wants juvenile justice reforms

DAVENPORT- Scott County Sheriff Tim Lane says he and other local law enforcement officials are lobbying lawmakers to change the way juvenile offenders are handled in Iowa.

He says young offenders should be classified by the severity of their crimes when in detention centers.

And, says right now, juveniles are far too often allowed to run the show in those facilities because of restrictions and liability issues.

The facilities are run the the Iowa Department of Human Services, and not a corrections agency. He says some policies should change.

"People that work within these facilities would have the ability to restrain juveniles when they get out of control," he said.

"Essentially, it's giving the teacher or the instructor the ability to make the juvenile comply, sit down and listen," he said.

"Right now, what I'm being told is if I work in a juvenile detention center, and I've worked successfully for 20 years, and a juvenile "inmate" attacks me and I have no choice but to defend myself, then what is done is a child abuse investigation on me," he said.

"Under current laws, facilities are closing with the liabilities that goes with handling juveniles," he said.

Lane says he hopes lawmakers in Des Moines are open to discussing reform.

"I think our local lawmakers are on board. They can see it, they know it's a problem. The current system isn't working."