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Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative

What Is JDAI?

Ohio’s JDAI strives to eliminate the unnecessary and inappropriate use of secure detention without sacrificing public safety.  Currently, seventeen of Ohio's counties belong to a growing membership of juvenile justice practitioners and other system stakeholders across the country utilizing the eight core strategies and working to build a better and more equitable youth justice system. The Annie E. Casey Foundation is credited with the inception of JDAI in 1992, which has grown to become the most widely replicated juvenile justice reform initiative in the United States.

Why is JDAI Important to Ohio?

Did you know that a youth as young as 10 years old can be detained in an Ohio juvenile detention facility? And, that spending even one night in a secure detention facility can interrupt school, employment, family and community connections, which seriously damage a youth’s prospects for future success?  Recognizing these dangers, Ohio became a state-supported JDAI site in 2010. Our partnership with the AECF is consistent with the Department’s reform efforts and commitment to a community-based service delivery system. Despite popular perception, most youth detained in Ohio’s detention facilities prior to Ohio's JDAI were not violent juvenile offender. Ohio's data show that most juvenile offenders were securely detained for technical violations and most juveniles detained were African-American males and other minority youth.  

JDAI Goals:

State Scale Approach

With victims' rights and community safety at the forefront of all considerations, JDAI counties mean to reduce Ohio’s reliance on unnecessary detention and incarceration through the just and equitable treatment of all youth and to diminish the needs of other out-of-home placements. JDAI goals include:   

  • Decreasing the number of youth unnecessarily or inappropriately detained;
  • Reducing the number of youth who fail to appear in court or re-offend pending adjudication;
  • Redirecting public funds towards effective juvenile justice processes and public safety strategies;
  • Reducing disproportionate minority confinement and contact with juvenile justice system, and;
  • Improving the juvenile justice system overall.

This is done through family and community investments that support probation transformation, positive youth development, engaging youth and families, reducing the desperate number of Black and Brown youth in the juvenile justice system and reducing state congregate care.

Reducing Racial & Ethnic Disparities

Reducing racial disparities requires specific strategies aimed at eliminating bias and ensuring a level playing field for youth of color. Racial/ethnic disparities are the most stubborn aspect of juvenile justice reform. Real lasting change in this arena requires committed leadership, on-going policy analysis, and targeted policies and programming.  One way to achieve social change in an organization is to incorporate race equity and inclusion at every stage of work. The seven step Race Equity and Inclusion Action Guide provides a clear framework for undertaking this important work.

JDAI Deep End Work

The AECF created a Took Kit for sites working to expand the JDAI to the deep end of the juvenile justice system.  To support each site’s progress, the AECF has identified core elements and decision-points that are essential to deep end reform, as well as developmental milestones to guide sites through the deep end reform process. 

Ohio Probation Transformation 

Probation is the most common disposition in juvenile justice, with nearly half a million young people given some form of probation annually. Taking action to get probation right presents an enormous opportunity for improving the entire juvenile justice system. The Casey Foundation has developed a vision for transforming juvenile probation based on new research on adolescent behavior and brain development and on intervention strategies that consistently reduce delinquency. 

Interested in joining the initiative? 

All of Ohio’s 88 county juvenile courts are eligible and welcome to participate in Ohio’s JDAI. Participation requires:

  • Strong judicial leadership and community collaboration.
  • Commitment to achieving Ohio's JDAI goals.
  • Completion of the JDAI Readiness Survey (available upon request).  All surveys will be reviewed by the Department, as well as the JDAI State Leadership Committee. 

JDAI Connect

For more information, to gain access to online courses and exclusive webinars, to find a platform to learn from your peers, and to access reports, articles, and documents, join JDAI Connect.