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Prevention and Early Intervention

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  Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)  
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  In 2004, the Annie E. Casey Foundation selected New Jersey to be among the first states to replicate the nationally recognized JDAI. JDAI was developed in response to national trends reflecting a drastic increase in the use of secure detention for juveniles despite decreases in juvenile arrests, and the resulting overcrowding of youth detention centers nationwide. In New Jersey, for example, between 1993 and 2002 juvenile arrests for “index” offenses (i.e., the most serious offenses) decreased by 44.8 percent and overall juvenile arrests decreased by 24.7 percent. However, during the same 10-year period average daily population in detention increased by 37.7 percent. These changes led to serious overcrowding in New Jersey’s county-operated detention facilities. In 1996, for example, New Jersey’s detention facilities were operating at 166 percent of approved capacity.  
  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 youths who, by virtue of their alleged offenses or documented prior histories, pose a serious public safety or flight risk. The goal of JDAI as a systems-change initiative is to create more effective and efficient processes surrounding the use of detention. A primary goal of JDAI is to make sure that secure detention is used for 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. JDAI also works to redirect resources toward successful reform strategies and to improve conditions of confinement in detention facilities for those youth who require this most secure level of supervision.  
  JDAI 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 reducing the disparate 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.  
  The JJC is the lead agency for JDAI in New Jersey, providing the management and staffing infrastructure integral to New Jersey’s success as a JDAI site. The JDAI has earned the broad support of government at both the state and local level, exemplifying the best of interagency and intergovernmental collaboration. The Attorney General’s Office and the New Jersey Judiciary have been instrumental in developing and supporting JDAI. At the state level, the New Jersey Council on Juvenile Justice System Improvement, whose members are jointly appointed by the JJC Executive Director and the Administrative Director of the New Jersey Courts, oversees JDAI and considers statewide policy and practice reforms. At the local level, County Councils on Juvenile Justice System Improvement are directly responsible for implementing local reform strategies.  
  The results achieved through these JDAI partnerships have brought New Jersey national recognition. While nationally JDAI is operational in more than 125 local jurisdictions spanning 30 states, New Jersey is the only state to be designated 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 seven states, including Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, and New Mexico, have participated in New Jersey’s JDAI “Model Site” Program.  
  The JDAI Annual Data Reports listed here highlight the impact of JDAI collectively in the active sites.
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