Develop a comprehensive model for helping localities and states reduce juvenile incarceration.  

Work with selected JDAI sites  to test and refine this new model, applying skills sites have developed in their detention reform efforts (such as data-driven analysis and collaborative action) to the challenge of reducing juvenile incarceration.

Work with selected states to develop and adopt new state-level policies and practices to safely and significantly reduce unnecessary reliance on correctional institutions and other residential facilities for juvenile offenders.

Produce an array of issue briefs, policy reports, how-to manuals and other materials to inform policymakers and juvenile justice practitioners about key issues related to reducing juvenile incarceration. All materials will be made available through an online technical assistance hub, scheduled to come online in 2014.

Increase public understanding of the poor outcomes associated with youth incarceration by publishing high-profile reports and issue briefs, and by supporting timely books (such as Kids for Cash and Burning Down the House), and documentary film projects.

The number of juvenile correctional placements in participating JDAI jurisdictions were decreased by 43 percent, meaning more than 5,200 fewer youth removed from their homes each year in these jurisdictions.

Six local JDAI sites are engaged as pilot jurisdictions in an intensive process to reduce overreliance on incarceration. As of January 2014, all sites have completed in-depth system assessments that will form the basis for ambitious reform plans.

In Georgia, Casey helped develop recommendations that were incorporated into a comprehensive juvenile justice reform law enacted in 2013, and it is currently working in Georgia to develop new objective decision-making tools to ensure that only youth who pose a high risk to public safety will be confined. 

The Foundation helped advance significant breakthroughs in reducing juvenile incarceration through engagements in Alabama, New York City, Washington, D.C., and other jurisdictions.

Casey publications have generated news coverage about the problematic use of juvenile incarceration in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and many other media outlets, and they have been cited by the National Academies of Science.

At the local level, Casey incarceration reduction efforts assist participating jurisdictions to: 

  • analyze their juvenile systems and identify causes of unnecessary overreliance on incarceration;
  • implement reforms to safely and cost-effectively reduce confined populations and improve youth outcomes;
  • establish rigorous data collection and analysis systems that enable local leaders to identify trends, determine what’s working (and not working), and support a process of continuous improvement.

Though each jurisdiction’s reform plans are targeted to local needs and conditions, common strategies include:

  • using a dispositional matrix to ensure equal treatment of youth, divert low-risk youth from the court system and minimize unnecessary placements into residential custody;
  • improving probation practices to reduce residential placements due to probation rule violations and to better address the underlying needs of youth;
  • engaging families and making them partners in formulating case plans for their children;
  • increasing use of evidence-based treatment models and other community alternatives to residential or correctional placements;
  • improving legal representation for youth. 

Promising targets for state-level reform include:

At the state level, Casey identifies states with strong interest in and capacity for reform, and provides them with intensive consultant support to identify areas for improvement and implement effective reforms.

Key Casey Publications on Reducing Youth Incarceration 

No Place for Kids: The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration

Reducing Youth Incarceration in the United States

A Road Map for Juvenile Justice Reform: This KIDS COUNT essay from 2008 highlights challenges for the juvenile justice system and offers promising solutions for youth, families, taxpayers and communities.

The Missouri Model: Reinventing the Practice of Rehabilitating Youthful Offenders. This report details the key elements of Missouri’s highly regarded correctional treatment model, and documents its exemplary results.

Is Your JDAI Site Ready to Dive Into the Deep End? 

Why We're Expanding JDAI's Focus

Additional Sources of News, Information, Data and Analysis

Juvenile Justice Information Exchange and their Resource Hub 

Youth confinement rates by state from the KIDS COUNT Data Center

National Juvenile Justice Network

Models for Change publications page 

U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Statistical Briefing Book

From the Blog

New Funds Limit Use of Detention Facilities for Massachusetts Youth and Expand JDAI

A new grant from the Lookout Foundation has been awarded to the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services. This grant will help deliver JDAI’s mission to decrease the length of stay in detention for low-risk youth and reduce the racial and ethnical disparities within the juvenile justice system. JDAI’s work will expand at the county level across Massachusetts. 

Read More

Making the Case to Reduce Youth Confinement

JJIE Interviews Nate Balis

Gary Gately of the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange sits down with Nate Balis, who will lead the Foundation’s juvenile justice reforms starting July 1.

No Place for Kids

No Place for Kids: The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration assembles a vast array of juvenile crime statistics and other evidence to demonstrate that incarcerating kids doesn’t work.

Our Focus on Incarceration

Bart Lubow explains why the Foundation is expanding its detention-reform effort to focus on our nation's overreliance on incarceration.