Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative

In 2001, CJJ began a multiyear partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation of Baltimore, Maryland, to promote and develop detention reform throughout the United States. CJJ published a major report in 2003, Unlocking the Future: Detention Reform in the Juvenile Justice System, which provides evidence to show that, contrary to popular belief, the majority of detained youth are not the older, violent offenders that the public assumes need to be under lock and key. Using strong evidence, the report demonstrates that juvenile court jurisdictions throughout the United States needlessly many place young people with mental health, substance abuse, and family problems—most of whom are 15 years or younger, non-violent, and disproportionately youth of color into locked detention.

CJJ works with the Casey Foundation to advance the foundation’s long-range project, the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) focusing on the following key objectives:

  • To reduce the number of children inappropriately detained;

  • To minimize the number of youth who fail to appear in court and incidence of delinquent behavior;

  • To reduce public expenditures and redirect public funds toward successful reform strategies; and

  • To simultaneously improve public safety and conditions of juvenile confinement.

Because of its extensive, bipartisan and multidisciplinary links to state and local juvenile court professionals and service providers throughout the United States, CJJ is uniquely well-suited to turn the lessons of the Casey Foundation’s ground-breaking work with juvenile detention alternatives into concrete and sustainable actions that will serve the best interests of youth, families, and communities.