Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative

​​The Maryland Department of Juvenile Services participates with 200 local jurisdictions in 39 states and the District of Columbia to replicate the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). After more than 20 years of innovation and replication, JDAI is one of the nation's most effective, influential, and widespread juvenile justice system reform initiatives.

JDAI is a comprehensive system reform initiative that seeks to reduce unnecessary use of secure detention, reduce racial and ethnic disparities, redirect resources to more efficient and effective forms of supervision, improve conditions within secure detention facilities, all while continuing to ensure public safety. The objectives of JDAI are accomplished through adoption of the following eight core, interconnected strategies:

  • Collaboration between juvenile justice agencies, governmental entities, and community organizations that undertake joint planning and policymaking to address reforms;
  • Use of Data to accurately diagnose system issues and assess the impact of implemented reforms;
  • Objective Admission Criteria and instruments to guide detention decisions through objective evaluation of relevant risk factors;
  • Alternatives to Detention that offer new or enhanced non-secure alternatives to detention;
  • Case Processing Reforms to expedite the flow of cases through the system, reduce lengths of stay in custody, expand non-secure slots, and ensure timely and appropriate interventions;
  • Reduce Special Cases admitted to secure detention for youth behavior that is not delinquent, but rather for matters that are technical in nature, such as probation violations, warrants, and youth awaiting placement.
  • Reducing Racial Disparities with strategies that eliminate intentional and unintentional bias and the disparate treatment of youth of color involved in the juvenile justice system; and
  • Improving Conditions of Confinement through application of rigorous protocols and standards pursued through a multi-disciplinary team of professionals and community members to ensure health and well-being of facility youth and staff.​

Whe​​re is JDAI Replicated?

Where is JDAI Replicated chart 

Baltimore City has been a JDAI site for more than 12 years. Under Secretary Sam Abed's leadership, the agency worked with its juvenile justice partners in 2011 to reset the JDAI efforts in the jurisdiction in order to appropriately align policy and practice reforms with new and emerging trends in detention utilization and juvenile crime. The success of the Baltimore City JDAI efforts, which includes a 29% reduction in the number of youth in secure detention on any given day, has encouraged new efforts to expand JDAI reforms to additional Maryland jurisdictions.

How is JDAI Staffed?

JDAI is not a program; it is a strategic process in which system agency leaders, line staff, child advocates and community partners work collaboratively to guide and monitor policy and practice reforms to achieve system improvements. This collaborative process requires consistent monitoring and coordination across the multiple partners. DJS established its Systems Reform Unit in 2011 to accomplish the coordinative needs of JDAI. The unit is comprised of a Director of System Reform Projects, local Detention Review Managers, and a team of Case Expediters who work directly with line staff across to operationalize implemented reforms.