Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)


In partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services adopted the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) as a reform strategy to impact decision making, promote positive outcomes for youth, and safely reduce the unnecessary or inappropriate use of secure detention. The program originally launched in 2000 in Baltimore City, and has since expanded to state scale reform.

What is the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative?

JDAI is a nationally recognized, evidence-based detention reform and juvenile justice system improvement initiative launched in 1992 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation​ in urban and rural jurisdictions. The mission of JDAI is to improve public safety and long-term outcomes for youth by:

  • Safely reducing the number of youth in secure detention
  • Reducing racial and ethnic disparities
  • Achieving systematic reform of juvenile justice practices
  • Redirecting resources to more efficient and effective forms of supervision
  • Improving conditions within secure facilities
  • Developing appropriate and effective alternatives to secure detention

JDAI Core Strategies

The objectives of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) are accomplished through adoption of eight core, interconnected strategies.

  1. Collaboration
  2. Use of accurate data
  3. Objective admissions criteria and instruments
  4. New or enhanced non-secure alternatives to detention
  5. Case processing reforms
  6. Special detention cases
  7. Reducing racial disparities
  8. Improving conditions of confinement

Contact Us

JDAI Project C​oordinator

Rachel Gassert
Special Assistant to the Secretary