|TRENTON - A delegation from the State of Kentucky is visiting New Jersey to attend a two-day working session focusing on the successful statewide implementation of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) on August 3 and 4, 2017.
For over a decade, juvenile crime rates and arrests have declined, but some jurisdictions around the country still struggle to reach a corresponding reduction in the number of young people sent to secure detention. New Jersey has seen a dramatic 65% reduction in its use of secure detention since the implementation of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s JDAI. While nationally JDAI is operational in 40 states, New Jersey is the only state to be designated as a national model for detention reform by the Casey Foundation. New Jersey receives funding from the Casey Foundation to support JDAI, and specifically to conduct two-day working sessions with delegations from other states interested in replicating New Jersey’s JDAI success. In addition to Kentucky, delegations from Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Nebraska, Washington State, South Dakota, New York State, and Pennsylvania have attended the workshops as a part of New Jersey’s JDAI “Model Site” Program.
Juvenile detention is the 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 youth who, by virtue of their alleged offenses or documented prior histories, pose serious threats to public safety or represent a flight risk. A primary goal of JDAI is to make sure that secure detention is used only in cases involving serious and chronic youthful offenders, and that effective alternatives are available for other youth who can be safely supervised in the community while awaiting final court disposition. In addition to reducing the inappropriate use of secure detention while maintaining public safety, the initiative also provides a framework of strategies that help reduce the disproportionate use of detention for minority youth and to improve the juvenile justice system overall.
“In New Jersey we have proved that many low level juvenile offenders do not need to be placed in secure detention. To date, 16 states have visited New Jersey to see how we have successfully and dramatically slashed our secure detention populations, while delivering rehabilitative services in the community and maintaining public safety,” Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. “It’s been proven over and over again that placing these young people in a jail-type setting actually does more harm than good - and it comes at a great cost, both financially, psychologically and morally. New Jersey’s successful implementation of JDAI surpassed anyone’s expectations and it is true accomplishment for our state.”
As the lead agency in the New Jersey collaborative, 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.
“Juvenile justice reform has transformed a broken system that sent too many young people away with no route back home. The dramatic reductions in pre-adjudicated detention populations and the number of young people committed to the JJC - speak for themselves – and have allowed us to focus on prevention services and developmentally appropriate treatment. With the creation of alternatives to detention, we have enhanced services that keep young people in their home communities and lead to successful outcomes.” said Kevin M. Brown, Executive Director of the JJC. “By no means do we consider our job done. We will continue to improve New Jersey’s juvenile justice system to rehabilitate young people and support families.”
“We are pleased to welcome colleagues from Kentucky to discuss our efforts to implement JDAI statewide,” Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said. “The JDAI initiative has brought about positive changes for individuals, families, and communities in New Jersey. We hope that our experience can be helpful to others and look forward to exchanging ideas about juvenile justice reforms during the upcoming visit.”
“The first and most important lesson taught by New Jersey is that success is possible,” said Nate Balis, Director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group. “New Jersey has demonstrated that states can play a central and invaluable role in spreading the JDAI model and in helping detention reform succeed at the local level."
To date, 20 New Jersey counties are participating in JDAI, including Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.
Kentucky currently uses JDAI in three counties and is seeking to expand its JDAI implementation. Their delegation will include Executives from the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Administrative Office of the Courts; the Justice Cabinet Deputy Secretary; two Chief District Judges; the State JDAI Coordinator; and youth and public advocates, among others.
For more information on JDAI in New Jersey, please visit:
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