Leading With Race to Reimagine Youth Justice

JDAI’s Deep-End Initiative

By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

April 27, 2020


This report explores the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Deep-End Initiative, which is helping juvenile justice jurisdictions safely and significantly reduce youth confinement — especially for young people of color.

In America today, youth of color are consistently overrepresented in courtrooms and detention centers, youth prisons and other residential institutions. This disparity is most extreme for youth in court-ordered institutions — often called the “deep end” of the system — and for youth transferred from juvenile to adult criminal courts.

Casey’s deep-end effort spans 12 demonstration sites across the United States. It employs intentional, data-driven strategies that move systems toward equity and specifically focus on youth of color. As part of this work, sites engage community organizations and community members to increase opportunities for young people of color in their own neighborhoods.

This document shares the initiative’s early results — and they’re encouraging. From their baseline years to 2018, participating sites collectively reduced out-of-home placements by 50% for all youth and 51% for African-American youth. During this same time frame, juvenile crime rates improved.

The Deep End Initiative builds on Casey’s flagship juvenile justice reform movement — Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative® (JDAI®) — which focuses on front-end reforms.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

Deep-end sites support intentional, data-driven strategies that are helping to move systems toward equity

All deep-end sites use three primary strategies to move toward the goal of safely and significantly reducing out-of-home placements and improving youth well-being, especially for young people of color. These strategies are: 1) race-conscious system mapping; 2) comprehensive and disaggregated data tracking and analysis; and 3) targeted reforms to change policy, practice, programs and partnerships. Early results from participating sites are in — and indicate that this three-pronged approach works.

Findings & Stats

Aecf leadingwithracetoreimagine chart1 2020

Confinement Check: St. Louis

The City of St. Louis confined 79% fewer youths in 2018 compared to 2012, with youth of color accounting for 95% of this change.

Statements & Quotations