Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative


Indiana has joined the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), a bipartisan movement for juvenile justice reinvestment—the reallocation of government resources away from mass incarceration and toward investment in youth, families, and communities.  It is through this reinvestment that we can make strides toward achieving genuine public safety.

The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative is a public-private partnership being implemented nationwide.  For over 20 years, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) has proven that juvenile justice system’s dual goals of promoting positive youth development and enhancing public safety are not in conflict and can be greatly strengthened by eliminating unnecessary or inappropriate confinement.  Indiana is one of nearly 200 JDAI sites in 39 states and the District of Columbia to implement the 8 core strategies of JDAI to enhance and improve their juvenile justice systems.

Marion County joined the JDAI in 2006, becoming the first JDAI site in Indiana.  By 2012, the County had reduced admissions to detention by 65.5% and the average daily population in detention had fallen by 47.4%. Felony petitions filed have also been reduced by 18.7%.  The County has saved millions of taxpayer dollars previously used for incarceration, through the use of less expensive and more effective community-based alternative sanctions for non-violent juvenile offenders.

In 2009 and 2010, four additional Indiana counties became JDAI sites—Johnson, Lake, Porter, and Tippecanoe Counties. Three additional sites were welcomed into Indiana’s JDAI expansion in 2011 and 2012—Clark, Elkhart, and Howard counties.  With the addition of Clark, Elkhart and Howard counties, over 34% of Indiana’s at-risk youth (youth age 10-17) reside in the eight (8) Indiana JDAI sites.

The 8 JDAI Counties have experienced a reduction in admissions to detention by an average of 44.7%, and a reduction in their average daily populations of 40.7% as of the end of 2012.  During this same period of time, juvenile re-arrest rates remained steady at 18% and juvenile felony petitions filed have dropped by 15.8%.  As of the end of 2013, DOC commitments were down from 386 during the baseline year for the original 8 JDAI Counties to 284—a 37% reduction!

In 2014, the Indiana Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative is undergoing another expansion.  Eleven additional counties have recently joined the JDAI.  These counties include:  Allen, Bartholomew, Boone, Delaware, Henry, LaGrange, LaPorte, Madison, Monroe, St. Joseph and Wayne.  With this expansion approximately 56% of youth ages 10-17 will live in a county implementing JDAI.  Our goal is to advance the proven juvenile justice improvement strategies of JDAI to include all 92 counties throughout Indiana who wish to be a part of this initiative.

As one of the first states in the nation to implement JDAI on a statewide basis, Indiana continues to be a national leader in advancing the cause of an equitable and effective juvenile justice system.

For further information, please contact Michelle Tennell at michelle.tennell@courts.in.gov.

Indiana Counties Currently Participating in JDAI

* The 19 JDAI counties represent 56% of Indiana's at-risk youth population (ages 10-17).