Tag Archive for Annie E. Casey Foundation

South Dakota, Which Used to Lock up Youths at the Highest Rate, is Now Rolling Out Statewide a Successful Juvenile Detention Alternatives Program

Map of USA with South Dakota highlighted

Map of USA with South Dakota highlighted (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A program in two South Dakota counties to help juvenile offenders stay out of detention is poised to expand statewide. South Dakota’s two-year-old Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) provides substitutes for detention. Rather than being locked up for offenders who qualify can opt for such measures as daily reporting or electronic monitoring.

Since JDAI was introduced in them, Pennington and Minehaha counties have enjoyed reductions in the average number of youngsters in their county detention centers by more than half.

Recently the state court system accepted a $100,000 grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to fund a statewide program coordinator, and the agency intends to ask legislators to make the position permanent. Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s administration and the state court system support the shift in thinking on juvenile justice, and expansion of JDAI statewide.

Jim Seward, the governor’s attorney and an architect of the adult criminal justice reform passed by lawmakers earlier this year said:

We support the concept of detention alternatives, and we’ve cooperated with the transition, knowing this would be going statewide.

Officials say the program’s goals of trimming the number of youths in lockup and reducing incidents of juvenile crime through the use of less-restrictive alternatives is a model that can be valuable throughout the state.

South Dakota state court administrator Greg Sattizahn said:

We’re going to use this grant to take it statewide, because the successes in Minnehaha and Pennington counties have been significant.

The shift toward alternatives to juvenile incarceration is particularly significant in light of the state’s history. South Dakota has been re-evaluating its juvenile programs for years, since the death of 14-year-old Gina Score at a Department of Corrections boot camp prompted the creation of a corrections monitor for the state.

Change has not come quickly, however. In 2006, the Casey foundation said that South Dakota locked up youth at a higher rate than any other US state.

The JDAI concept turns on the evidence-based theory that detention can be reduced without increasing juvenile crime. Now that Minnehaha and Pennington counties have seen that happen, prosecutors statewide are more likely to accept the program.



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Youth Incarceration Down in U.S., Colorado

Map of USA with Colorado highlighted

Map of USA with Colorado highlighted (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

U.S. juvenile detention has fallen to the lowest level in 35 years, due largely to the increase and growth of remediation programs. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement, 44 states have reduced their confinement of juveniles rates between 1997 and 2010, with declines of 66% in Tennessee, 57% in Arizona, 48% in California and 44% in Texas. On the other hand, incarceration rates rose over the period In Nebraska, Idaho, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and South Dakota. Over the same period, youth violence dropped significantly.

Bart Lubow, director of The Annie E. Casey Foundation, whose recent study is titled “Youth Incarceration in the U.S” states:

The decline is very significant because America for a long time did nothing but build up its incarcerated young population. But in recent years, there has been a radical sea change. It is a highly important social development that has largely gone on under the radar.

The findings reflect a trend toward less harsh treatment of youthful infractions. Scientific research shows that youths can more easily control destructive impulses as their brains mature.

Most juveniles are confined for minor offenses—such as violating curfew or running away from home—offenses that would not be considered illegal if committed by those 18 and older.

Juvenile justice systems still treat children of color much more punitively than Anglo kids—confining five times more African-American youngsters and two-to-three times more Latinos and Native Americans than Whites.

The Casey Foundation finds wholesale incarceration counterproductive and provides technical assistance to 200 jurisdictions attempting to reduce it.

According to Bartholomew Sullivan, writing in the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

 The Casey Report recommends five steps to accelerate the drop in youth detention, including restricting incarceration only to those “who pose a demonstrable risk to public safety” and upending the financial incentives for correctional placement.

The recent de-incarceration trend provides a unique opportunity to implement responses to delinquency that are more cost-effective and humane and that provide better outcomes for youth, their families and communities.

The number of juveniles committed to the Colorado Division of Youth Corrections has dropped by 44 percent in the past seven years, the result of programs that have put more focus on rehabilitation than detention. Declining populations at the facilities are a result of successfully combining front-end programs—designed to help adolescents before they enter the justice system—and efforts to stop released juveniles from returning.

Colorado Director of Youth Corrections John Gomez states:

Declining populations at our facilities are a result of successfully combining front-end programs—designed to help ad<olescents before they enter the justice system—and efforts to stop released juveniles from returning. We’ve continued to work at ensuring that we are providing the right services at the right time.

With fewer juveniles in detention, the Colorado Department of Human Services, which manages youth corrections, has asked lawmakers to move nearly $8 million from youth corrections to child-welfare services, including early-intervention programs for children and teens before they enter the juvenile justice system.

In the past year, Colorado has enjoyed a 13% drop in youth recidivism. And more juveniles being released from youth corrections are equipped with skill sets that will help them when they return home. While serving their commitments, juveniles can earn their GEDs or high school diplomas and work with their families before being released.


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Talking about the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI)

Bart Lubow, Director of Juvenile Justice Strategy for the Annie E. Casey Foundation talks about the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) at an April 2012 conference in Houston dedicated to the topic. JDAI is currently the the most widely replicated juvenile justice system reform project in the nation, with initiatives in 38 states.

News Roundup: Juvenile Justice

Prison BarsFirst of all we would like to thank everyone who made our signing at Warwick’s Books such a success! It means a lot to see what we do inspiring such a reaction. Thank you all!

There seems to be a lot going on this week, and juvenile justice is taking the lead in news stories everywhere. Today, rather than focus on just one story, we would like to present a survey of the current top stories.

First stop, West Virginia. 

The state’s juvenile justice system will soon be examined by a court-hired monitor, due to worries that it focuses more on punishment than rehabilitation. This is an approach that is both more expensive and less effective over time.

State Supreme Court administrative director Steve Canterbury is quoted in The Charleston Daily Mail as making a vital point on the subject:

‘I know that many citizens get very frustrated and they have the misconception that ‘rehabilitation’ means ‘mollycoddling,’ but real rehabilitation programming is stringent and demanding and at the end of the day that investment pays off in dividends because you don’t have to keep paying for the continued recidivisms of juveniles who have not been rehabilitated,’ he said.

Orlando, Florida. 

In a move forward, Orlando is implementing a new program that allows cops on the street to write a ticket for many juvenile infractions that before now would have resulted in time behind bars. Geared toward “slightly troubled kids,” the option is only available to first-time offenders. Even so, the projected cost savings are sizable.

WFTV notes some of the details in their coverage of the story:

The civil citation will require things like restitution, community service and courses to correct juvenile behavior.  These are much cheaper than tying up the court system, according to officials.

‘We see many, many children mess up and many of them don’t need to go deeper into the juvie justice system,’ said Secretary Wansley Walters of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.


The Lone Star State has taken some good strides towards a better system of juvenile justice in recent years, so it is a fitting place for nearly 700 of the nation’s top juvenile-justice reformers to gather. Such is the case this week, as some of the most engaged minds on this topic meet in Houston to share their strategies for reducing the number of troubled youths who end up incarcerated.

Bart Lubow, director of the Juvenile Justice Strategy Group at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which is hosting the Houston gathering, says just locking kids up mostly doesn’t work.

‘Our reliance on incarceration is a failed policy. It doesn’t work for the kids; it doesn’t work for public safety; it doesn’t work for taxpayers, because it’s enormously expensive.’

New York

While advocates gather in Texas, New York is the site of a two-day conference for journalists, hosted on the campus of The John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Center on Media, Crime and Justice. The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange is blogging it, and I highly advise checking out their coverage. Here is a little of what to expect:

While the conference, Kids Behind Bars, Where’s the Justice in America’s Juvenile Justice System?, is primarily meant for journalists, many of the topics will be of interest not only to those in the field, but the general public as well.

Speakers on Monday include: Mark Soler, executive director of the Center for Children’s Law & Policy; Vincent Schiraldi, commissioner of New York City’s Department of Probation; Ricardo Martinez, co-director, Padres & Jovenes Unidos and David Utter, director of policy, the Florida office of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Also of note: The Crime Report is also blogging the event, if you’d like a different perspective.


As all know, there has been a lot of furor in The Golden State about the closure of a number of facilities dedicated to housing juvenile offenders. KALW public radio has today’s “must read,” article on the subject – an interview with one of the state’s most noted juvenile justice reformers:

Only three of California’s state facilities still remain open, holding a total of about 800 to 900 youth, and soon the state will hand down responsibility of juvenile offenders to counties. But [Barry] Krisberg, the Director of the of Research and Policy at the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute at UC Berkeley’s School of Law, isn’t so sure that this realignment is the wisest decision. Turnstyle sat down with him to discuss the coming changes to California’s juvenile justice system and what they will mean for both the state of California and its counties.

So there you go, some of the top news on the subject of juvenile justice this week. I’m sure that as budgetary constraints get tighter and election season ramps up we will be seeing a lot more stories on the subject. We can only hope that the legislators of our nation remember that it truly is more expensive to do nothing!

The “Throw ‘Em in Jail,” Approach Doesn’t Work

Kilmainham JailRecidivism is a dirty word. Concretely it describes those who are imprisoned for a crime, serve time, and get out only to end up back behind bars. In the abstract it represents failure on a number of levels, not least of which is the failure of our current system to properly address and curtail criminal behavior.

Those familiar with my work here might recall that I examined this problem from a number of angles during my last tenure here. Once More, Rehabilitation Urged Over Incarceration, Recidivism May Be Worse Than We Think, and Education Based Incarceration in Southern California to name a few.  Those were written in mid to late 2010 so it’s time to take a look at what changes may have occurred over the past year.

One positive step forward comes to us in the form of a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation:

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s new report, No Place for Kids: The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration assembles a vast array of evidence to demonstrate that incarcerating kids doesn’t work: Youth prisons do not reduce future offending, they waste taxpayer dollars, and they frequently expose youth to dangerous and abusive conditions. The report also shows that many states have substantially reduced their juvenile correctional facility populations in recent years, and it finds that these states have seen no resulting increase in juvenile crime or violence. Finally, the report highlights successful reform efforts from several states and provides recommendations for how states can reduce juvenile incarceration rates and redesign their juvenile correction systems to better serve young people and the public.

As I had predicted then,  the accumulation of evidence causes the conclusion to become clearer and clearer: simple incarceration simply does not work. Brian Zumhagen writes on the WNYC News Blog that the empirical evidence from New York supports these findings:

Over the past decade, New York City has reduced the number of kids it sends to upstate facilities by more than 60 percent, according to New York City’s Probation Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi.

At the same time, he says, the number of serious felony arrests for city juveniles has declined by more than 25 percent.

Rehabilitation, not incarceration, is the key.

In my next blog post I’l be taking a look at the current situation in Texas, where they stopped locking up juvenile offenders for non-felony crimes back in 2007.

Image by amanderson2 on Flickr, used under it’s Creative Commons license