Detention Reform

A Cost-Saving Approach

By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

January 1, 2007


The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) is dedicated to restructuring the youth justice system and to create a more efficient approach to detaining youth. Using big data, JDAI helps communities reduce wasteful spending detaining non-violent youth, which allows the money that is save to be redirected toward more effective public safety solutions.

This brief provides an overview of the success JDAI has had in several communities, as well as the approach and goals of the initiative.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

Research shows that juvenile detention does not provide a big return on the money invested.

The price of detaining a young person ranges from $32,000 to $65,000 annually, and sometimes more. Including construction, finance, and operating costs, a single detention bed can cost $1.5 million over a 20-year period.

Findings & Stats