This report—the 6th installment in a series devoted to revolutionizing detention programs and practices in America—is packed with practical tips aimed at improving and assessing institutional conditions and practices. The goal: Transform even the most dangerous and disruptive facilities into fair, humane centers for today’s youth.
Detention centers open their doors to the Annie E. Casey Foundation and take a hard look a their institutional conditions.
Findings & Stats
The issues at crowded detention centers extend far beyond the laws of supply and demand. Studies indicate that these facilities are also more likely to be unfair and unsafe—with higher rates of injuries, suicidal behavior, imposed isolation and searches of youth.
One of the first questions that detention centers need to ask? Who are we detaining—and why?
The Key Ingredients
Experts have identified 6 must-have ingredients for improving conditions at detention centers. Sneak peek: Key component no. 3: Leadership at multiple levels must be committed to change. Key component no. 4: Raise assessment bars beyond the bare minimum—aim for a best practice.
A New Tool
To help evaluate institutional conditions, the Annie E. Casey Foundation created a new assessment tool that integrated federal and state laws, constitutional rights and professional standards.
Experts who’ve been-there, done-that have numerous tips for pulling off an effective on-site assessment. Some of their advice? Talk to as many people as possible; stick around at night; conduct spontaneous interviews and ask everyone—from leadership to frontline staff to youth in isolation—the same questions.
Back to Basics
When it comes to improving detention center conditions, experts urge administrators to go back to the basics: Utilize data, train and involve staff, maintain operating manuals and visit your living units on a regular basis.
Statements & Quotations
On any given day, some 24,000 youth are incarcerated in public juvenile detention centers in this country.
Our decision to invest millions of dollars and vast amounts of staff time in
JDAI was not solely the result of Broward County’s successful pilot endeavors,
however. It was also stimulated by data that revealed a rapidly emerging national
crisis in juvenile detention.