JDAI - Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative

In 2017, the Greene County Juvenile Court committed to become a "JDAI" court.

The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, is one of the nation's most successful and widespread juvenile justice system reform initiatives.  The focus of JDAI is to reduce reliance on juvenile detention where youth have often been needlessly detained with long-term negative consequences for both public safety and youth development.  JDAI has several core objectives, including: 

  - Decrease the number of youth unnecessarily or inappropriately detained:
  - Reduce the number of youth who fail to appear in court or re-offend pending adjudication;
  - Redirect public funds towards effective juvenile justice processes and public safety strategies.

Research finds multiple negative consequences associated with placing youth in detention. Youth placed into pretrial detention are more likely to be formally charged, found delinquent, and committed to youth correctional facilities than similar youth who are allowed to remain at home pending their court hearings.

Research also shows that placement into locked detention has significant negative impacts on a youth's education, including increasing the likelihood of failing or dropping out.  If conditions inside that detention center are harsh, detention admissions can aggravate symptoms for youth who have mental health problems or a trauma history. 

Detention admissions are also related to future delinquency.  Youth who spend time in detention are more likely to be rearrested, adjudicated or convicted of new offenses, and incarcerated than youth who remain at home awaiting a court hearing.  Detention is also financially costly to taxpayers, with estimates at nearly $1 billion per year nationally.  While rates vary, the typical detention center costs roughly $150 to $300 per day for each occupied detention bed.

During the 1990's, juvenile detention centers were dealing with serious and pervasive overcrowding.  In addition, youth were being detained for non-violent crimes.  In 1995, over 70% of all detention cases nationwide involved nonviolent offenses.  Few jurisdictions systematically screened youth to ensure that detention was utilized for those youth who were a risk to public safety and even fewer invested in alternatives to detention programs.

JDAI was created to significantly and safely reduce detention populations through appropriate screening, assessment, and placement into detention alternatives. While JDAI's efforts are primarily focused on the detention phase, detention reform is a major catalyst for other changes in juvenile justice which include Core Strategies:

  - Promoting collaboration between juvenile court officials, probation agencies, prosecutors, defense attorneys, schools, community         organizations and advocates;

  - Using data collection and analysis to guide decision making; 

  - Utilizing objective admissions criteria and risk assessment instruments to reduce subjective decision-making regarding placement       in secure detention facilities;

  - Implementing alternatives to detention programs in lieu of locked detention;

  - Instituting case processing reforms to expedite the flow of cases through the system;

  - Reducing the number of youth detained for probation violations or failing to appear in court, and the number held in detention              awaiting transfer to a residential facility;

  - Combatting racial and ethnic disparities by examining data to identify policies and practices that may disadvantage youth based          on race or ethnicity.

  - Monitoring and improving conditions of confinement in detention facilities. 

At the Greene County Juvenile Court, this initiative included revised criteria for placement in secure detention which has resulted in a dramatic reduction of youth being placed in detention for low-level, non-violent offenses.

Another positive result has been better-managed probation caseloads.  As an alternative to detention placement, the Court secured funding from the Ohio Department of Youth Services to establish an Assessment and Intervention Center (2018-2020) designed to process youth away from contact with the juvenile justice system and detainment and towards community services that more appropriately address various crime-producing needs.  For higher-risk youth, the Intervention Center offers social skills, mental health and substance abuse programming in an out-patient environment located separate from the Juvenile Justice Complex where the Detention Center and community corrections facility is located.