JDAI Promotes Placement Of The Right Kids, In The Right Places, For The Right Reasons, For The Right Amount Of Time

(BEDFORD) – The Lawrence County Commissioners gave their approval for Lawrence County to be a Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) county.

Juvenile Referee Anah Hewetson Gouty

Juvenile Referee Anah Hewetson Gouty told the commissioners Tuesday morning that the county has received a grant for around $50,000 to participate in the initiative.

“The increased and unnecessary use of secure detention exposes troubled young people to an environment that more closely resembles adult prisons and jails than the kinds of community and family-based interventions proven to be most effective,” said Judge Gouty.

A recent literature review of youth corrections shows that detention has a profoundly negative impact on young people’s mental and physical well-being, their education, and their employment.

“Most importantly, there is credible and significant research that suggests that the experience of detention may make it more likely that youth will continue to engage in delinquent behavior, and that the detention experience may increase the odds that youth will recidivate, further compromising public safety,” Judge Gouty added.

Overseeing the program in Lawrence County will be Judge Nathan 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, and Katie Messmann, who will serve as the JDAI Coordinator for Lawrence County.

For more than 20 years nationally in both urban and rural jurisdictions, the JDAI has demonstrated that moving low-risk youth from secure detention into community-based alternative programs is an excellent public policy.

JDAI is a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, focused on juvenile justice system improvement. In Indiana, JDAI is overseen by Indiana Criminal Justice InstituteIndiana Department of Correction, Indiana Supreme Court, Indiana Department of Child Services,  Indiana FSSA: Division of Mental Health & Addiction and Indiana Department of Education.

Judge Gouty says the program:

  • Improves public safety
  • Reduces over-reliance on secure detention and out-of-home placements
  • Enhances racial, ethnic and gender equity
  • Saves taxpayer dollars

JDAI’s EIGHT Core Strategies

  • Collaboration between key juvenile justice system stakeholders/agencies and non-system stakeholders, including youth and families, community members, faith-based organizations and others to plan and coordinate system improvement activities
  • Use of accurate data to diagnose and understand the challenges and opportunities in the juvenile justice system; to drive policy and practice decisions; to regularly monitor changes and impact
  • Reliance on objective admission criteria to guide detention decisions
  • Utilize Alternatives to detention for youth who do not require secure detention to ensure minimization of the likelihood of re-offense and failure to appear pending disposition
  • Efficiency in Case processing to reduce unnecessary delays and ensure that interventions are timely and appropriate
  • Reduce the use of secure confinement for “special” Detention cases such as violation of probation, warrants, and youth awaiting placement
  • Commit to reducing racial, ethnic and gender disparities by implementing practices and policies that eliminate institutional biases that differentially impact youth based on race, ethnicity, and gender
  • Assess conditions of confinement using established methodology and ambitious standards