Consider the Alternatives

planning and implementing detention alternatives

By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

May 2, 1999


This report — the fourth installment in a series devoted to revolutionizing detention programs and practices in America — tells how sites have cut costs and eased overcrowding concerns by developing new alternatives to detention. Their success stories carve a clear path for jurisdictions interested in planning, implementing and monitoring similar reforms.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

Detention alternatives can cost lest than secure detention.

Secure detention is costly — with an average price tag topping $200 per bed per day. By comparison, some of the detention alternatives developed by JDAI sites cost as little as $6 per day. These figures alone should motivate officials (and taxpayers!) to favor securely detaining only the most serious offenders while investing in alternate options for the rest.

Findings & Stats

AECF Considerthe Alternatives ig3

Model Move: Illinois

Cook County’s evening reporting centers offer structure and supervision to juveniles in their own communities during the high-crime time interval of 3 to 9 p.m. A report from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency indicates that without this alternative program in place, more than 60% of the 183 youths admitted to the centers in 1997 would have wound up in secure detention.

AECF Considerthe Alternatives ig1

Home Confinement In a Nutshell

This cost-effective, efficient alternative to secure detention involves a tight curfew, limited movement beyond the home and frequent, unannounced visits and phone calls by program officials. The goal? Minimize a juvenile’s chance of a getting into trouble again while ensuring that they show up for their next court appointment.

AECF Considerthe Alternatives ig2

Shelter Care Snapshot

This program model is the most restrictive detention alternative in the continuum. It involves 24/7 supervision as well as recreational and educational activities. Experts urge sites to keep shelter programs small — anywhere from eight to 20 beds — as larger programs are difficult to run.

Statements & Quotations