Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) isa nationally recognized model created by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to promote detention reform. The model will be implemented in Pulaski County under the leadership of the juvenile courts and the Office of the County Judge and County Attorney.
This initiative is an opportunity to improve the “front-end” of the juvenile justice system based on research and evidence-informed practices, as part of larger juvenile justice reforms in the County.
Pulaski County is the third JDAI site in Arkansas following Benton and Washington Counties. Since implementation, the number of youth committed to state custody in Benton and Washington Counties dropped by 30 and 25 percent respectively. Center for Children’s Law and Policy will provide technical assistance.
In June 2017, Pulaski County released the findings of its juvenile justice system assessment study performed by the CCLP. Using the JDAI framework, CCLP provided suggestions for areas of improvement including collaboration among stakeholders, data collection and analysis, case processing and alternatives to detention and incarceration programs.
CCLP also provided recommendations for the Pulaski County Juvenile Detention Center “conditions of confinement in facilities that house youth.” These recommendations included discontinuing the use of orange jumpsuits and the 24-hour lock down after admission. Shortly after reviewing the recommendations, the juvenile detention facility discontinued the 24-hour lock down and offers khaki pants and polo shirts as standard attire for those housed in the facility.
It is paramount to the very foundation of juvenile justice that there is a swift response to violation of the law to ensure that the system’s goal of changing behavior is achieved. Imagine having a conversation with your child after they have broken rules/laws that acknowledges that their actions were unacceptable and then indicates that you are going to think about what the consequences are for several months before discussing it with them again. If a youth does not perceive the system to be timely, predictable and fair, the system’s goal of changing behavior is less likely to be achieved.
The results of the Case Processing Study point to delays in four primary areas: initial intake meeting after arrest and/or initial contact with law enforcement, filing of a petition, service of petition and date of adjudication hearing. The results were compared against the two primary standards used for juvenile case processing. The Model Standards for State Trial Courts approved in August of 2011 by the Conference of State Court Administrators, Conference of Chief Justices, American Bar Association House of Delegates and the National Association of Court Management and the Nation Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Enhanced Juvenile Justice Guidelines, which are more specific and were adopted in 2019. There was much debate about the dataset, which was a random draw of fifty cases from two of the juvenile courts by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Most present had no issue with the current timeline/process and some advocated for extending the current times arguing that more time was needed to process cases. In the end, there was an agreement to create a checklist for law enforcement to reduce the number of ineffective arrest affidavits; however, no subcommittees were created and there was no desire expressed to work in a collaborative manner to reduce case processing times at any of the four stages.
Please mark your calendars for the next JDAI working group meeting on Friday, October 18, from 1:00-3:00 p.m., in the Jeffery Hawkins Conference Room. Please share this information with a friend and invite them to attend the next meeting with you.