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Release: March 18, 2002

UI School of Social Work wins grant to study minority juvenile incarceration

The University of Iowa School of Social Work National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice has been awarded a $95,000 grant to work with state and community groups to reduce the overrepresentation of minorities in the state's juvenile justice system. The grant, from the Iowa Department of Human Rights, Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning, will be used to establish a Disproportionate Minority Confinement Resource Center for the state of Iowa.

The center, located on the UI Oakdale campus, will bring together a variety of state and community leaders as well as police officers, parents, youth, juvenile court staff, and social service employees to identify aspects of the system that need to change and to develop and implement a plan to help reduce the number of minorities in the most restrictive juvenile justice institutions. The effort will be focused on up to six communities around the state.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, minorities constitute approximately 8 percent of the total youth population in Iowa, yet nearly a third of all juveniles held in Iowa detention centers are minorities.

"Our primary goal in establishing the center is to reduce the overrepresentation of minorities in the most restrictive juvenile justice settings statewide by working collaboratively at both the state and community level," said Miriam Landsman, a UI assistant professor of social work.

Landsman is also the executive director of the school's National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice, which provides technical assistance, staff training and research on family based programs and issues with the goal of strengthening human services in public and community programs. Brad Richardson, Associate Research Scientist for the NRC, will be coordinating the Disproportionate Minority Confinement Resource Center's technical assistance effort. The School of Social Work is part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.