Special Detention Cases

strategies for handling difficult populations

By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

February 2, 2001


This report — the ninth installment in a series devoted to revolutionizing detention programs and practices in America—focuses on three detention populations that can easily slip through the cracks during comprehensive reforms. It is packed with options and action steps for sites interested in creating a fairer, more efficient detention system for America’s children (probation violators, post-adjudication detainees and youth with warrants included).  

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

Sites who’ve been-there done-that share their lessons learned

Among the eight lessons learned from Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) sites: Be patient — and persistent — when rolling out reforms for special detention cases; put your policies and procedures in writing; and base all of your decisions on solid data.

Findings & Stats

AECF Special Detention Cases Fig 1 2001

Model Move

Officials in Cook County, Illinois, were automatically detaining many minors who posed little risk to society. The reason? Warrants stemming from missed court dates. To resolve this issue, the officials created an arraignment court that reduced wait times for initial hearings. They also launched a court notification program to remind youth when and where they needed to appear for their next hearing. These two steps spurred a dramatic drop in the number of court appointments missed.

AECF Special Detention Cases Fig 3 2001

Sleeper Stat

Do you know who is sleeping in your detention beds? When officials in Cook County, Illinois, and Multnomah County, Oregon, stopped and looked at their data, they discovered that juvenile probation violators — often low-risk occupants — were utilizing 20 to 35% of their available detention space.

Statements & Quotations