Watch: Nate Balis on the Strength of the JDAI Network

Posted December 9, 2019
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Nate Balis, director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Juvenile Justice Strategy Group

A new video reports on the state of JDAI®, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s move­ment for juve­nile jus­tice reform. The ses­sion cap­tures the address that Nate Balis, direc­tor of the Foundation’s Juve­nile Jus­tice Strat­e­gy Group, deliv­ered to 800 jus­tice prac­ti­tion­ers and deci­sion mak­ers at the 2019 JDAI Inter-Site Con­fer­ence in Seattle.

What start­ed out in the ear­ly 1990s as a rad­i­cal-for-its-time reform cam­paign has grown up,” Balis says when describ­ing JDAI’s evo­lu­tion over more than 25 years.

Let’s rec­og­nize that, for many years now, JDAI has been about a whole lot more than deten­tion reform,” he says. Once you learn to use data, to col­lab­o­rate and to devel­op alter­na­tives to con­fine­ment, it would be crazy to do these things only for deten­tion and not at oth­er phas­es of the juve­nile jus­tice process.” The data and evo­lu­tion of strate­gies led the net­work to pur­sue deep-end reform and pro­ba­tion transformation.

Balis cred­its the JDAI network’s vital­i­ty and rel­e­vance to its will­ing­ness to evolve. He plays off of the JDAI acronym to con­vey the val­ues that dri­ve the net­work in 2019:

  • Just — being com­mit­ted to racial and eth­nic equi­ty and to fair­ness for girls and LGBTQ youth;
  • Devel­op­men­tal­ly appro­pri­ate — divert­ing as many youth as pos­si­ble from the jus­tice sys­tem, trans­form­ing pro­ba­tion, min­i­miz­ing con­fine­ment and ensur­ing that facil­i­ties are safe and designed to help young peo­ple grow and mature;
  • Account­able — mak­ing sure the sys­tem — police, courts, pro­ba­tion, cor­rec­tions — is account­able to the youth, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties it serves; and
  • Inclu­sive - part­ner­ing with fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties to ensure youth of all races and eth­nic­i­ties are con­nect­ed to a rich array of pos­i­tive youth devel­op­ment opportunities.

The full text of Balis’ address is avail­able on JDAIcon­nect, a free online com­mu­ni­ty for JDAI prac­ti­tion­ers and peo­ple inter­est­ed in youth justice.

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