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

Posted August 5, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog innovativejdaiinterventions 2016

The Boston-based Look­out Foun­da­tion, Inc. has award­ed the Mass­a­chu­setts Depart­ment of Youth Ser­vices (DYS) almost $900,000 to keep low-risk youth out of secure deten­tion facil­i­ties while they await their tri­al hear­ings and fur­ther place­ment deci­sions. This three-year grant will expand the work of the Juve­nile Deten­tion Alter­na­tive Ini­tia­tive (JDAI) in Mass­a­chu­setts to reduce reliance on secure pre-tri­al deten­tion while strength­en­ing the juve­nile jus­tice system.

The grant is one of sev­er­al new fund­ing com­mit­ments for JDAI efforts across the coun­try, includ­ing sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic dol­lars in Ohio and Indiana.

We seek out pro­grams that pro­vide trans­for­ma­tive ser­vices and treat­ments to youth and young adults who have expe­ri­enced trau­ma,” said Dinah Buech­n­er-Vis­ch­er, pres­i­dent of the Look­out Foun­da­tion. To lever­age our impact, we take a sys­tems approach and seek out cat­a­lysts that tar­get root-caus­es and shift par­a­digms. JDAI is a strong fit with these criteria.”

Nate Balis, direc­tor of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juve­nile Jus­tice Strat­e­gy Group, said phil­an­thropic fund­ing is a strong endorse­ment of the prin­ci­ples behind JDAI. It acknowl­edges that we can sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly and safe­ly reduce the over­re­liance on incar­cer­a­tion for young peo­ple,” he said. We know that local sites typ­i­cal­ly require out­side assis­tance if they are to pur­sue deten­tion reform successfully.”

Research has repeat­ed­ly shown that secure deten­tion can be harm­ful for low-risk youth, increas­ing the chances that they will not fin­ish high school and that they will end up in the adult jus­tice sys­tem,” said Mass­a­chu­setts JDAI State Coor­di­na­tor Lynsey Hef­fer­nan. Over 75% of all youth who enter the U.S. juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem have already been exposed to trau­ma and even when all efforts are made to treat chil­dren well, locked facil­i­ties are not the envi­ron­ment in which chil­dren thrive.”

The Look­out Foun­da­tion 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. Since coun­ties in Mass­a­chu­setts began adopt­ing JDAI in 2006, they have expe­ri­enced a 56% drop in deten­tion admissions.

The Look­out Foun­da­tion grant is part of a long-term strat­e­gy to safe­ly reduce the use of incar­cer­at­ed set­tings for chil­dren and assure that low-risk youth receive the nec­es­sary sup­ports and ser­vices in their homes and com­mu­ni­ties,” said Com­mis­sion­er of the Depart­ment of Youth Ser­vices Peter Forbes.

The Ohio Depart­ment of Youth Ser­vices (DYS) recent­ly announced $1.6 mil­lion in new com­pet­i­tive fund­ing for Ohio coun­ties to offer more diver­sion oppor­tu­ni­ties, bet­ter alter­na­tives to deten­tion and bet­ter con­di­tions of con­fine­ment for those youth remain­ing in deten­tion cen­ters. Said Regi­na Lur­ry, DYS State JDAI Admin­is­tra­tor: When coun­ties can fund a day/​evening report­ing cen­ter as a deten­tion alter­na­tive, for exam­ple, the young peo­ple it serves can stay in school, con­tin­ue work­ing and receive mon­i­tor­ing dur­ing high-risk after­noon and evening hours.” She added: It helps judges strike the right bal­ance in pro­tect­ing the com­mu­ni­ty, hold­ing youth account­able and being rehabilitative.”

The Indi­ana Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions award­ed over $1.9 mil­lion in grant fund­ing in fis­cal year 2017 to sup­port the imple­men­ta­tion of JDAI and to fos­ter deten­tion alter­na­tive pro­grams in 31 Indi­ana coun­ties, includ­ing Cass Co. A Cir­cuit Court judge in Cass Coun­ty, Leo Burns, said the coun­ty is par­tic­i­pat­ing in JDAI to reduce the num­ber of non­vi­o­lent chil­dren placed in secure deten­tion while increas­ing options for young peo­ple in emer­gency situations.

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