The Annie E. Casey Foundation: Helping vulnerable kids & families succeed
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New Jersey conference draws hundreds

Nearly 450 local and state JDAI leaders shared accomplishments and discussed further reforms at New Jersey’s 2011 JDAI All-Sites Conference, hosted by the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission on April 7 and 8 at the Sheraton Eatontown.

The conference theme, “Collaborative Decision-Making: The Heart of JDAI,” stressed the importance of collaboration in making JDAI successful.

Veleria Lawson, JJC executive director, Patricia A. Walker, JJC’s director of local programs and services, and New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow gave opening remarks that acknowledged the impact and success of JDAI.

The Honorable F. Lee Forrester, Superior Court judge, and Harry T. Cassidy, assistant director, New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts, also addressed conferees.

Bart Lubow, the director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group, delivered the keynote address.

“The embrace by New Jersey of detention reform is so unusual and goes so deep,” said Lubow. “More than just listening to the testimonials, I was impressed by how JDAI policies and practices are embedded in every aspect of the work. It was a fantastic conference.”

The workshops focused on collaboration across levels of government, agencies and counties. Presenters also discussed the role of data in collaboration and the incorporation of youth, families and communities into reform efforts.

New Jersey currently has 15 counties implementing JDAI, 11 of them with secure juvenile detention centers. Average daily population at 12 sites had decreased by more than 51 percent by 2010, compared to the year prior to JDAI implementation.

On any given day, 381 fewer youth are in secure detention statewide, with youth of color accounting for just over 90 percent of the decrease.

Those successes led five counties to close their detention centers and enter into agreements with other counties to house their youth, saving millions of dollars.

At the conference, Attorney General Dow said that the goal is for each of the state’s 21 counties to be designated as JDAI sites in 2012.
 
“A child’s placement in the juvenile justice system should not depend on whether he or she comes from a suburb or one of our urban centers,” she said.

“It should not depend on whether the youth is a girl or a boy. And, it should not depend on whether a young person is white or is a minority.”

For more information contact Jennifer LeBaron at jennifer.lebaron@njjjc.org.


Conference attendees at 2011 New Jersey JDAI All-Sites Conference.