Preliminary Analysis Shows Average Daily Detention Populations Reduced by 43% Across JDAI Sites

Posted June 18, 2013, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Population results

The Juve­nile Deten­tion Alter­na­tives Ini­tia­tive (JDAI) is a nation­wide effort of local and state juve­nile jus­tice sys­tems, ini­ti­at­ed and sup­port­ed by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, to elim­i­nate unnec­es­sary and inap­pro­pri­ate use of secure deten­tion for juve­niles. Begun in 1992, JDAI has grown to become the most wide­ly repli­cat­ed juve­nile jus­tice ini­tia­tive in the Unit­ed States, reach­ing youth in more than 200 coun­ties across 39 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia as of 2013. JDAI sites sub­mit results reports for two pri­ma­ry pur­pos­es: (1) to pro­vide an annu­al oppor­tu­ni­ty for sites to assem­ble and report mea­sures of deten­tion reform progress that can be shared with local sys­tem stake­hold­ers, pol­i­cy mak­ers and the com­mu­ni­ty; and, (2) to gen­er­ate ini­tia­tive-wide aggre­gate mea­sures and inter-site com­par­isons to deep­en our under­stand­ing of the over­all impact, influ­ence and lever­age of the deten­tion reform movement.

As of 2012 JDAI sites had:

  • Sub­stan­tial­ly reduced reliance on secure deten­tion. In the aggre­gate, sites reduced the num­ber of youth detained on an aver­age day by more than 3,000 com­pared with pre-JDAI lev­els, a reduc­tion of 43%.
  • Reduced annu­al admis­sions to deten­tion by more than 59,000 youth com­pared with pre-JDAI admis­sions, a decrease of 39%.
  • Reduced deten­tion among youth of col­or. More than half of the reduc­tion in deten­tion admis­sions occurred among youth of col­or, who are his­tor­i­cal­ly over-rep­re­sent­ed in secure deten­tion across the US. In the aggre­gate, JDAI sites detained 39% few­er youth of col­or than they did pri­or to JDAI. How­ev­er, youth of col­or are still detained at sub­stan­tial­ly high­er rates than oth­er youth. Adjust­ing for demo­graph­ic changes, JDAI sites have reduced deten­tion among youth of col­or by about the same pro­por­tion as all oth­er youth; but large racial and eth­nic dis­par­i­ties persist.
  • Reduced their com­mit­ment of youth to state cus­tody. As of 2012, JDAI sites had reduced the num­ber of youth they com­mit to state cus­tody by 43%, or by more than 5,200 youth annually.
  • Expe­ri­enced reduc­tions in juve­nile crime. JDAI sites use a vari­ety of indi­ca­tors to gauge the over­all lev­el of juve­nile crime. Regard­less of the indi­ca­tor used, JDAI sites report sub­stan­tial­ly less juve­nile offend­ing, pro­vid­ing evi­dence that deten­tion can be reduced with­out erod­ing pub­lic safe­ty. Juve­nile crime indi­ca­tors in 2012 were down by an aver­age of 36% from pre-JDAI levels.
  • Secured $44 mil­lion in finan­cial resources above and beyond their JDAI grants to sup­port deten­tion reform. This rep­re­sent­ed a 10% increase since 2010, and reflect­ed a reduc­tion in local gov­ern­ment fund­ing but a sub­stan­tial increase in fund­ing from state and fed­er­al sources.

These results depict an ini­tia­tive that has accom­plished a great deal, and still has much left to accom­plish. It doc­u­ments the progress that JDAI sites have made in reduc­ing their reliance on secure deten­tion and advanc­ing juve­nile jus­tice reform; and it also shows that sites con­tin­ue to grap­ple with chal­lenges in sev­er­al areas of per­for­mance, most notably the stub­born per­sis­tence of racial and eth­nic dis­par­i­ties in the use of detention.

On the whole, the results that JDAI sites have achieved are grat­i­fy­ing and impres­sive — and those achieve­ments should give sites renewed con­fi­dence and deep­er com­mit­ment to tack­le the chal­lenges that remain.

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