New Jersey’s successful juvenile detention program is being studied by a delegation from Nebraska this week.

Legislators, court representatives, probation and juvenile detention workers, along with law enforcement and community organizations are attending a two-day working session focusing on statewide implementation of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative.

JDAI was implemented in New Jersey more than eight years ago, and is now active in 16 counties, including Atlantic, Cumberland and Ocean counties. In 2011, there were 6,000 fewer juveniles in those counties incarcerated, according to information released last year. That was a 60 percent decrease.

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“Every day, in every state, young people are held in secure detention centers not because they need to be there, but because so few other options exist,” Assistant Attorney General Deborah Edwards said Thursday. “I am proud to say that New Jersey is changing its juvenile justice system and redirecting young lives without negative consequences to public safety.”

"We are delighted to welcome delegates from Nebraska to talk to them about our efforts to reform the juvenile justice system,” Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said. “We are committed to moving forward with statewide implementation of JDAI and are pleased to share our experiences with other states.”

The Annie E. Casey Foundation provides as much as $200,000 each year for the program. JDAI is currently in more than 125 local jurisdictions in 30 states, but only New Jersey is designated as a national model for detention reform by the foundation.

“By identifying the stakeholders and working together, New Jersey has changed juvenile justice,” said Kevin M. Brown, acting executive director of the Juvenile Justice Commission. “Our system works to turn around the lives of troubled youths while keeping our communities safe.”

Juvenile detention is a temporary placement of a youth accused of a delinquent act, while awaiting the final outcome of his or her case in court. The purpose of detention is to house youths who, by virtue of their alleged offenses or documented prior histories, pose serious threats to public safety or are thought to be flight risks.


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