Annual JDAI Conference Celebrates Success

Posted May 9, 2013
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

JDAI’s largest gath­er­ing to date brought togeth­er more than 700 pol­i­cy­mak­ers and prac­ti­tion­ers in Hous­ton (Har­ris Coun­ty), Texas, for the 19th JDAI Inter­site Con­fer­ence in April 2012.

The con­fer­ence cel­e­brat­ed the initiative’s past two decades of suc­cess, includ­ing a 42 per­cent reduc­tion over­all in the use of deten­tion by JDAI sites. The reduc­tion rep­re­sents 2,400 few­er youth in detention.

Patrick McCarthy, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s pres­i­dent, updat­ed con­fer­ees on the Foundation’s ambi­tious goal to reduce the incar­cer­a­tion of com­mit­ted youth and to close America’s train­ing schools.

In his annu­al State of the Ini­tia­tive” speech, Bart Lubow, direc­tor of Casey’s Juve­nile Jus­tice Strat­e­gy Group, out­lined the oppor­tu­ni­ties avail­able to JDAI sites as states and local­i­ties pre­pare to eschew poli­cies of mass incar­cer­a­tion that have been at the cen­ter of crime pol­i­cy for the past four decades.

It is at least a por­tent of a dif­fer­ent future, one that rec­og­nizes that mass incar­cer­a­tion has proven a fis­cal­ly unsus­tain­able approach to pub­lic safe­ty that main­tains and exac­er­bates racial and eth­nic dis­ad­van­tages, dis­rupts fam­i­lies, under­mines com­mu­ni­ties and dis­re­gards new knowl­edge about how to respond more effec­tive­ly to crime,” he said.

The three-day event includ­ed more than 40 work­shops cov­er­ing a wide range of juve­nile jus­tice top­ics, includ­ing: safe­ly reduc­ing reliance on secure deten­tion; racial and eth­nic dis­par­i­ties and bias; build­ing com­mu­ni­ty capac­i­ty; data-informed deci­sion mak­ing; and judi­cial lead­er­ship in deten­tion reform.

Gail D. Mum­ford, senior asso­ciate at the Casey Foun­da­tion, wel­comed con­fer­ees and asked those attend­ing their first con­fer­ence to stand. More than half the audi­ence rose to a rous­ing round of applause.

The Har­ris Coun­ty JDAI site was a gra­cious host and hearti­ly wel­comed JDAI. Its stake­hold­ers used a ple­nary ses­sion to proud­ly show­case the county’s six years of accom­plish­ments in reform­ing its deten­tion poli­cies and prac­tices.

Refer­rals to Har­ris Coun­ty Juve­nile Pro­ba­tion have decreased by 36 per­cent; admis­sions to deten­tion by 29 per­cent over­all and 37 per­cent among youth of col­or; aver­age dai­ly pop­u­la­tion by 61 per­cent; and refer­rals to res­i­den­tial facil­i­ties and Texas Youth Com­mis­sion place­ments by 62 per­cent and 83 per­cent, respectively.

Anoth­er ple­nary pan­el fea­tured fam­i­ly mem­bers rep­re­sent­ing Jus­tice for Fam­i­lies, a nation­al net­work of com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions that recent­ly released Fam­i­lies Unlock­ing Futures: Solu­tions to the Cri­sis in Juve­nile Jus­tice. The report is based on sur­veys of more than 1,000 fam­i­lies whose chil­dren entered local juve­nile jus­tice systems.

JDAI looks for­ward to anoth­er great con­fer­ence in Atlanta in April 2013.

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