(BEDFORD) – In early February 2020 Justice Steven H. David of the Indiana Supreme Court, Chair of the Executive Committee for the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI), sent a letter to Indiana judges seeking interest and commitment to the JDAI initiative.
Lawrence County Juvenile Referee, Anah Hewetson Gouty, submitted a Statement of Interest for Lawrence County to be considered as a site for the Indiana Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI).
JDAI is a model for youth justice system improvement that was developed by the Juvenile Justice Strategist Group of the Annie E. Casey Foundation approximately thirty years ago. At its core, JDAI is a public safety initiative that focuses on limiting use of pre-adjudication secure detention while ensuring the alternative placements and procedures are safe and appropriate to meet the needs of the youth.
Indiana has adapted and evolved the JDAI model to provide opportunities for improvement at all decision points from contact with law enforcement through placement in out-of-home care and post-placement return to the community.
Indiana JDAI has demonstrated outstanding public safety outcomes, says Gouty.
Comparing 2018 data to each counties’ baseline year (the year before implementing JDAI), thirty-one sites collectively experienced a 63% decrease in admissions to secure detention, a 50% decrease in felony petitions filed, and a 60% decrease in commitments to the Department of Correction.
“The efforts have resulted in savings to taxpayers, improved efficiencies in the operations of the youth justice system, and better outcomes for youth and their families,” she added.
“The Lawrence County Probation Department does an excellent job at assessing juveniles’ needs for detention or other placements while also balancing the community’s safety concerns when making recommendations to the Court for placement of juveniles; however, Lawrence County’s consideration as an Indiana JDAI site means more funding and more opportunities to provide services to youth and families,” Gouty added.
JDAI sites receive training opportunities in best practices for the youth justice system, access to networks of state and national experts, and technical assistance from a team of Juvenile Justice Strategists.
Judge Nathan G. Nikirk of the Lawrence Circuit Court, Judge Anah Hewetson Gouty, Lawrence County Chief Probation Officer Nedra Brock-Fleetwood, as well as the Assistant Chief Probation Officer, Scott Wedgewood, announce Katie Messmann, the JDAI Coordinator for Lawrence County.
Brock-Fleetwood, Wedgewood, and Messmann will draft a grant application and submit by July 1, 2020, to ensure Lawrence County’s funding for the initiative.