The ACJC, formerly under the guidance of now retired Judge Daniel G. Heath, launched the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). During coming months and years, our community will see a drop in the number of adolescents detained at the juvenile center. This will be done with safety as a priority. By lowering the number of kids we incarcerate we can save precious tax dollars for programs designed to fight crime at its root causes such as poor early childhood development, trauma causing emotional damage, mental health issues and the like. Many of our kids can be helped by targeted and carefully assessed therapeutic programs. Implemented with fidelity to JDAI principles, our community should benefit like other communities that have implemented this program over the past two decades.

Using a structured planning process, the Annie E. Casey Foundation (along with the Indiana Department of Corrections, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, the Indiana Supreme Court and the Indiana Department of Child Services) pursues eight interrelated core strategies:

  •  Promoting collaboration between juvenile court officials, probation agencies, prosecutors, defense attorneys, schools, community organizations and advocates;
  • Using rigorous data collection and analysis to guide decision making;
  • Utilizing objective admissions criteria and risk-assessment instruments to replace subjective decision-making processes to determine whether youth should be placed into secure detention facilities;
  • Implementing new or expanded alternatives to detention programs – such as day and evening reporting centers, home confinement and shelter care – that can be used in lieu of locked detention;
  • Instituting case processing reforms to expedite the flow of cases through the system and reduce lengths of stay in custody;
  • Reducing the number of youth detained for probation rule violations or failing to appear in court, and the number held in detention awaiting transfer to a residential facility;
  • Combatting racial and ethnic disparities by examining data to identify policies and practices that may disadvantage youth of color at various stages of the process, and pursuing strategies to ensure a more level playing field for youth regardless of race or ethnicity;
  • Monitoring and improving conditions of confinement in detention facilities.

This program is largely funded by a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

“Preventing youth from spending time in custody means they are more likely to complete high school, find employment and have good mental health.”

– The Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Annie E. Casey Foundation. 2015. Baltimore, MD. Retrieved from