|NEWARK - The Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) today hosted the first session of the two-day New Jersey Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) All-Sites Conference at the Newark Marriot.
More than 500 people are expected to attend the statewide conference, which includes workshops focused on a variety of significant juvenile justice concerns including: creating a trauma-informed court system, recognizing and reducing unintentional bias, the school-to-prison pipeline, restorative justice practices, and community and youth engagement in the juvenile justice system.
The two-day All-Sites conference is funded through a grant from the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation. Faculty for the event consists of local and state leaders involved in the implementation of JDAI, as well as national experts. Nate Balis, Director of the Juvenile Justice Strategy Group at Annie E. Casey provided a keynote address on the conference’s theme -- “Restoring and Transforming: A Future-Ready Juvenile Justice System.”
JJC Executive Director Kevin M. Brown and Acting Administrative Director of the Courts Glenn A. Grant welcomed attendees from across New Jersey, including members of each County Council on Juvenile Justice System Improvement, as well as State Council members.
“As host of the JDAI All-Sites Conference, JJC is pleased to bring national specialists to New Jersey to join our local experts in further expanding the reform of the juvenile justice system,” said Executive Director Brown. “Reform is a continuing process, and there is still much work to do in New Jersey to improve outcomes for youth, families and communities. This conference will allow us to start that process.”
For more than 10 years, New Jersey has participated in the national JDAI effort, resulting in transformation of the State’s juvenile detention system. New Jersey’s accomplishments in this regard have earned it the distinction of serving as the national model for statewide JDAI implementation.
“In New Jersey, we can proudly say we are a model site for juvenile justice reform. We’ve successfully reduced the juvenile jail population across our state without any increase in juvenile crime,” said Judge Grant. “Through conferences like this, we can continue to take a comprehensive, coordinated approach to finding alternatives to detention for low-risk offenders without compromising community safety.”
Annually, data is used to document trends in the use of county-operated juvenile detention centers, and to identify areas for continued improvement. The 2015 JDAI Annual Report demonstrates a drop-off of more than 65 percent in the state’s overall daily juvenile detention population compared with the prior year.
That means on any given day, there were 536 fewer youth in secure juvenile detention, with youth of color accounting for 89.4 percent of the decline. Overall, 7,500 fewer youth were admitted to detention in 2015, representing a 73 percent decrease in admissions. At the same time, available Uniform Crime Report figures indicates juvenile arrests are down by more than 50 percent, suggesting that JDAI public safety goals are being met.
A joint initiative of the JJC, Judiciary, Attorney General’s Office and numerous county agencies, JDAI is safely reducing the unnecessary use of secure detention in the 18 JDAI sites that were active throughout 2015 including: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Union, Warren, Gloucester, Sussex and Cape May. Salem County has just initiated its JDAI efforts.
More information on New Jersey’s JDAI efforts, including the 2015 Annual Data Report, can be found at www.njjjc.com/publications.htm.
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