Impact Evaluation of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)


While both juvenile arrest rates and placement rates for youth confined in secure detention have experienced a significant drop between 1997 and 2008, placement rates (26%) have not fallen as sharply as arrest rates (33%). Despite these drops, many jurisdictions continue to operate detention facilities at or over capacity and continue to incarcerate youth who pose no risk to public safety. 

The Annie E. Casey Foundation launched the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) in an attempt to lower  the pre-trial population of youth by refining the decision-making process that determines whether a youth is released or detained while awaiting trial. At the heart of the initiative is reducing the number of youth entering secure facilities and minimizing exposure to the harmful and unintended consequences associated with the use of detention.

Arguably, JDAI is the largest reform effort  since the creation of the juvenile court -- the Warren Institute is engaged in evaluating the degree to which JDAI has had an impact on detention use and policy at a national level and between JDAI counties and non-JDAI counties across a set of variables. The Annie E. Casey Foundation-funded evaluation will explore the extent to which the core philosophies behind JDAI have been adopted into state statutes, as well as the impact it has had in reducing disproportionate minority contact (DMC).