Overview: The JDAI Story

Building a Better Juvenile Detention System

Posted January 1, 1999
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
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In 1993, 5 counties accepted the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s challenge to commit to radical detention reform. The experiment—called the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)—required a huge political risk, a staff paradigm shift and the development of new procedures and programs to better serve America’s troubled youth. Read their stories, struggles and successes, and find out if the initiative’s growing pains were worth the major effort. (Spoiler alert: The data say yes!)

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations

Key Takeaway

Overcrowding and deteriorating conditions have crippled juvenile detention centers across the country.

Enter fresh ideas (and resistance to change). Cue new collaborations (and fierce public opposition). As this overview shows, the journey to juvenile reform isn’t simple or straight. But, the lessons learned along the way—and there are many—serve as a gritty glimmer of hope that we can all do better by today’s justice-involved youth.