|TRENTON – A delegation from the state of Nebraska including legislators, representatives from the courts, probation and juvenile detention, as well as stakeholders from various law enforcement and community organizations, are in New Jersey to attend a two-day working session focusing on statewide implementation of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI).
Assistant Attorney General Deborah Edwards, Counsel to the Attorney General ; Kevin M. Brown, Acting Executive Director, Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC); and Harry T. Cassidy, Assistant Director of Family Practice, Administrative Office of the Courts, opened the event at the Trenton War Memorial and addressed the delegation, praising the State of New Jersey’s successes.
“Every day, in every state, young people are held in secure detention centers not because they need to be there, but because so few other options exist,” said Assistant Attorney General Edwards. “I am proud to say that New Jersey is changing its juvenile justice system and redirecting young lives without negative consequences to public safety.“
"We are delighted to welcome delegates from Nebraska to talk to them about our efforts to reform the juvenile justice system,” said Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. “We are committed to moving forward with statewide implementation of JDAI and are pleased to share our experiences with other states.”
In April 2004, New Jersey was selected as an official replication site for the Annie E. Casey Foundation’ s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) and was awarded an annual grant of up to $200,000 by the Foundation. As the lead agency, the JJC works in partnership with the Judiciary, and other state and local agencies through the statewide Council on Juvenile Justice System Improvement (CJJSI), which guides the statewide initiative. Each participating county also relies on a local county council for collaboration, leadership, and data to make improvements in the county juvenile justice system.
The results achieved through these JDAI partnerships have brought New Jersey significant recognition. While nationally JDAI is operational in more than 125 local jurisdictions spanning 30 states, New Jersey is the only state to be designated as a national model for detention reform by the Casey Foundation. This designation was bestowed upon NJ in late 2008 as a result of the impressive outcomes New Jersey has achieved since JDAI inception. New Jersey receives funding from the Casey Foundation to support JDAI, and to specifically conduct two-day working sessions with delegations from other states interested in replicating New Jersey’s JDAI success. To date, delegations from eight states, including Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, and Ohio have participated in New Jersey’s JDAI “Model Site” Program.
“New Jersey is very proud to serve as the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s model for statewide implementation of its Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative,” said Kevin M. Brown, the acting executive director of the Juvenile Justice Commission. “The numbers tell the story, with a reduction in the use of detention down by over 50%. By identifying the stakeholders and working together, New Jersey has changed juvenile justice. Our system works to turn around the lives of troubled youths while keeping our communities safe.”
"New Jersey has distinguished itself among the 39 JDAI states through outstanding results and a thoughtful approach to spreading detention reform statewide,’’ Lubow said. “No other state has built as impressive an infrastructure to stimulate change at the county level, nor mobilized as much political and administrative support. New Jersey can be commended for acting as a learning laboratory for these other states."
Juvenile detention is a temporary placement of a youth accused of a delinquent act, while awaiting the final outcome of his or her case in court. The purpose of detention is to house youths who, by virtue of their alleged offenses or documented prior histories, pose serious threats to public safety or are thought to be flight risks.
A primary goal of JDAI is to make sure that secure detention is used only to ensure that serious and chronic youthful offenders are detained, and that effective alternatives are available for other youths who can be safely supervised in the community while awaiting final court disposition. The initiative provides a framework of strategies that help reduce the inappropriate use of secure juvenile detention, while maintaining public safety and court appearance rates. A major focus of the work is to reduce the disproportionate use of detention for minority youth.
Significant cost-savings have been realized as the result of JDAI in New Jersey. The excess space created by population reductions has allowed several counties to close their detention centers and house their youth in other counties’ facilities. These agreements resulted in millions of dollars of cost savings for the sending counties and substantial revenue increases for the receiving counties.
To date, 16 New Jersey counties are implementing JDAI: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Union and Warren. Of the 16 counties, 9 currently operate secure juvenile detention centers.
For more information on JDAI, please visit: www.nj.gov/oag/jjc/localized_programs_jdai.html.