Strategies for the Successful Expansion of JDAI

Posted March 19, 2019
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Father talks with son

States that are accel­er­at­ing the spread of the Juve­nile Deten­tion Alter­na­tives Ini­tia­tive® (JDAI) across their local juris­dic­tions now have a new resource to help inform their work.

Juve­nile Deten­tion Alter­na­tives Ini­tia­tive Scale-Up — writ­ten by the West­Ed Jus­tice and Pre­ven­tion Cen­ter and com­mis­sioned by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion — draws lessons from the suc­cess­es and chal­lenges that four states expe­ri­enced as they expand­ed JDAI® to more counties.

These states — Indi­ana, Mass­a­chu­setts, Mis­souri and New Mex­i­co — are home to more than 2 mil­lion young peo­ple between the ages of 10 and 17.

Statewide repli­ca­tion of JDAI is impor­tant because it offers per­haps the most prac­ti­cal avail­able means for states to make their juve­nile jus­tice sys­tems more effec­tive, more effi­cient and more just,” explains Gail D. Mum­ford, senior asso­ciate in the Casey Foundation’s Juve­nile Jus­tice Strat­e­gy Group.

Repli­cat­ing JDAI wide­ly — or tak­ing it to scale — involves ful­ly and faith­ful­ly using the JDAI’s eight core strate­gies to serve all or near­ly all youth with­in a giv­en state. Doing so elim­i­nates dis­parate jus­tice prac­tices from coun­ty to coun­ty — some­times called jus­tice by geography.”

To bet­ter under­stand each state’s expe­ri­ence tak­ing JDAI to scale, researchers posed three questions:

  1. How is your juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem struc­ture, his­to­ry, moti­va­tion and lead­er­ship influ­enced the scale-up process?
  2. How have you imple­ment­ed the eight core strate­gies as you move JDAI to scale?
  3. What suc­cess­es, chal­lenges and lessons learned have arisen through the scale-up process?

In their respons­es, the states report­ed suc­cess with improv­ing con­di­tions of con­fine­ment, using deten­tion screen­ing tools to guide admis­sions deci­sions, imple­ment­ing val­i­dat­ed tools to assess risk and using data to iden­ti­fy trends and pat­terns in the use of deten­tion. The states also described com­mon chal­lenges asso­ci­at­ed with expand­ing JDAI. Many of these hur­dles were relat­ed to:

  • staff and orga­ni­za­tion­al capac­i­ty, such as com­mu­ni­ca­tion between state and local leaders;
  • data qual­i­ty, com­pat­i­bil­i­ty, uni­for­mi­ty and fidelity;
  • human resources and staff turnover;
  • estab­lish­ing and sus­tain­ing the infra­struc­ture need­ed to sup­port expansion;
  • increas­ing the racial and eth­nic diver­si­ty of par­tic­i­pants in JDAI stake­hold­er groups across mul­ti­ple juris­dic­tions; and
  • boost­ing the effec­tive­ness of these same groups.

Study­ing scale is a com­plex under­tak­ing because we need to under­stand state and local con­text and the var­i­ous fac­tors influ­enc­ing take-up over time — and those fac­tors change with time, too,” notes Jef­frey Poiri­er, senior asso­ciate in the Casey Foundation’s Research, Eval­u­a­tion, Evi­dence and Data unit.

For­tu­nate­ly, the four states pro­filed have already culled some use­ful — and gen­er­al­ly applic­a­ble — advice from their repli­ca­tion efforts. They recommend:

  • involv­ing judi­cia­ry lead­er­ship ear­ly because judges can be par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive in advanc­ing JDAI’s goals and build­ing buy-in at the state and local levels.
  • devel­op­ing a strong, inclu­sive state-lev­el JDAI col­lab­o­ra­tive that involves com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, fam­i­lies, youth and gov­ern­ment stakeholders.
  • using clear mes­sag­ing about JDAI strate­gies and out­comes to cre­ate broad buy-in.
  • plan­ning for data col­lec­tion and man­age­ment from the begin­ning; and
  • match­ing expan­sion efforts to the state’s abil­i­ty to increase infra­struc­ture sup­port for JDAI.

Find out what’s need­ed to take JDAI to scale in your state

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