The Auto Theft Accountability Program is designed to target first time offenders and provide accountability for the harm they have brought upon their victim and the community.
The program was established in 2019 in response to a dramatic increase in auto theft in the county that had a direct impact on the Scott County Juvenile Detention as average daily population doubled, causing costs to rise significantly as well.
The Auto Theft Accountability program is a victim-offender mediation program which is based upon highly effective programs provided in New Zealand (Family Group Conferencing) and Oakland, California (Restorative Community Conferencing). This model is evidence based, as the National Council on Crime and Delinquency studied the outcomes of the RCC program in Oakland. They found that youth who completed the program were 44% less likely to get a new sustained charge, than youth who were processed through the juvenile legal system.
This program is a restorative justice concept in which victims and offenders are brought face to face in a neutral setting. Staff then facilitate a meeting to discuss the harm that has been done and create a plan for how the offender is to repair the harm. The youth offender will have three months to complete the plan. If the offender completes the plan, they will have their charge dismissed. However, if at any point they fail to progress, they will revert back to court proceedings.
There are several reasons this program is in the best interest of the community. In other communities where it has been implemented they have experienced lower recidivism, higher victim satisfaction, and it has promoted a sense of responsibility in offenders. The ultimate goal will be to lower juvenile crime (particularly auto theft), less court hearings, improved court times, and decrease detention usage.
This program will incur no capital costs as it will be provided in the Scott County Juvenile Diversion Programs space.
On-going operating expenses for this program are covered by an inter-governmental contract with Iowa Decategorization Board with funding funneled from Juvenile Court. All staff time, training, and supplies for the program will be reimbursed by the contract up to $99,000 annually.