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For Immediate Release: For Further Information:
September 26, 2013

Office of The Attorney General
- John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General
Juvenile Justice Commission
- Kevin M. Brown, Executive Director
Media Inquiries-
Sharon Lauchaire
609-292-2288


Citizen Inquiries-

609-984-5828
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The State of Mississippi Visits New Jersey to Learn from its Success with Juvenile Detention Reform
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TRENTON - A thirteen person delegation from the state of Mississippi, including youth court judges, a state legislator, the state public defender, youth court prosecutor, representatives from the Mississippi departments of mental health, education and human services, and the police chief from Gulfport, are in New Jersey to attend a two-day working session focusing on statewide implementation of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). 

Counsel to the Attorney General Deborah R. Edwards; Honorable Glenn A. Grant, Acting Administrative Director of the NJ Courts; and Kevin M. Brown, Executive Director, Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC), opened the event at the Princeton Marriot and addressed the delegation, detailing the state of New Jersey’s experiences with JDAI.

“Every day in New Jersey, at-risk youth are staying out of secure juvenile detention facilities and receiving appropriate services in their communities thanks to our participation in JDAI,” stated Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman.  “New Jersey has demonstrated that by relying on data, research, and collaboration, we can redirect young lives without negative consequences to public safety.”

“The collaborative nature of JDAI implementation has been critical to our success,” said Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. “In that spirit, we look forward to meeting with colleagues from Mississippi to discuss meaningful reform in the juvenile justice system.” 

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), that 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 39 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. Including Mississippi, delegations from eleven states, including Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Nebraska, and Washington State 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, 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.”

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, 17 New Jersey counties are implementing JDAI: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Union and Warren; Cape May County was recently named as the 17th JDAI site. Of the 17 counties, 10 currently operate secure juvenile detention centers.   

For more information on JDAI, please visit: www.nj.gov/oag/jjc/localized_programs_jdai.html

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