In 1992, as a step towards meeting its vision, the Annie E. Casey Foundation established the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI).  Using detention as an entry point strategy, its primary target is overall juvenile justice system improvement.  Beginning with a handful of jurisdictions, the JDAI core strategies were proven to reduce the unnecessary and inappropriate secure detention, reduce costs, increase system fairness and improve the juvenile justice system overall without compromising public safety.  Today, JDAI is underway in 300 jurisdictions in 40 states and the District of Columbia, and JDAI is now operational in those places responsible for almost 31 percent of the country’s detained population.  The State of Indiana has a goal of expanding JDAI into all interested counties.  Lake County Juvenile Justice System is a participant in this expansion process.
The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) is designed to address the efficiency and effectiveness of juvenile detention across the United States.  JDAI demonstrates that communities can improve their detention systems without sacrificing public safety.  The goals of JDAI are to:
  • Decrease the number of youth unnecessarily or inappropriately detained
  • Reduce the number of youth who fail to appear in court or re-offend pending adjudication.
  • Redirect public funds towards effective juvenile justice processes and public safety strategies.
  • Reduce the disproportionate minority confinement and contact of the juvenile justice system.
  • Improve the juvenile justice system overall. 
JDAI is a process, not a conventional program, which means JDAI helps restructure policy and practice to create system improvements that reach far beyond detention alone.  JDAI sites have demonstrated safe reductions in the number of youth detained through a set of interrelated strategies which include:
  • Collaboration among juvenile justice agencies, community organizations and other government agencies
  • Use of data in making policy and case-level decisions
  • Use of objective instruments to guide detention decisions
  • Operation of a continuum of non-secure detention alternatives
  • Case processing efficiencies to reduce time between arrest and case disposition
  • Improvement of conditions of confinement
  • Safe reduction of special populations (e.g. violations of probation, warrants and cases awaiting placement)
  • Provide racial/ethnic fairness in policy and case-level decision-making 
By systematically addressing each of these areas, JDAI has proven that juvenile detention can be dramatically reduced without a corresponding increase in juvenile crime.
For more information, please consult the following: www.jdaihelpdesk.org