New Leadership Seeks to Re-energize Detention Reform in Baltimore

Posted March 16, 2012, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Under new leadership, the JDAI site in Baltimore, Maryland, is reinvigorating its collaborative and using a strategic planning process to bring a renewed focus to its detention reform work.

"As always, the ultimate goal of our JDAI work is to reduce the use of detention placements for pre-adjudicated youth without any negative impact to public safety," said Sam Abed, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (DJS). "By refocusing our JDAI efforts in Baltimore City, DJS has a great opportunity to align its objectives with current trends."

As part of the effort to reset JDAI and to increase its capacity for data-driven activities, DJS conducted a comprehensive analysis of detention utilization. The Detention Utilization Study was completed with technical assistance from the University of Maryland’s Institute for Governmental Services and Research, and the Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group.

Additionally as part of the strategic planning process, the Center for Children’s Law and Policy conducted a comprehensive system assessment, DJS hired a new JDAI coordinator, and the department initiated a quarterly training program for supervisors and line-level staff on JDAI core strategies.

In January 2012 DJS convened a daylong retreat to reintroduce stakeholders to the JDAI process and establish subcommittees and workgroups. The department shared the results from the system assessment and trends from the utilization study, and facilitated a discussion on the immediate challenges and opportunities facing the initiative.

"In addition to new data-gathering projects, DJS is now looking to expedite services and programming for youth who are involved in the ‘deep end’ of the juvenile justice system. With improved capacity for data-driven decision making, I am confident that the new focus on Baltimore City JDAI will yield better outcomes for youth in our care," Abed added.

For more information, contact Lisa Garry.

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