Insight News

Feb 10th

Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative celebrates five years

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minnesotajudicialbranchThe Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) has reduced the average daily population of the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) from 95 to 44 youth, a total decline of 54 percent from 2005 through 2009, announced JDAI.

Hennepin County's JDAI, modeled after the goal of the national JDAI vision, is a collaborative effort of the courts, probation, police, county attorneys, public defenders, schools, human services, and community members to create an effective, fair, and efficient juvenile justice system that produces positive outcomes for youth, while at the same time protecting public safety.

The focus of JDAI is on policy changes and community-based programs designed to support youth and eliminate the unnecessary use of secure detention for youth.

According to Hennepin County (Fourth Judicial District) Judge Tanya Bransford, "JDAI is helping us avoid the negative behaviors that can develop from having a juvenile who has committed a low-level offense - like curfew violation - placed in secure detention with youth far more deeply involved in the system."

The accomplishments of Hennepin County's JDAI include:

The Risk Assessment Instrument (RAI) - an objective decision-making tool used to identify youth appropriate for detention alternatives.

The Court Calling Reminder Program, in which volunteers call youth to remind them of their court dates.  Court Calling has been highly successful, resulting in a 20 percent increase in court appearances and decreasing the number of issued bench warrants.

Since July 1, 2009, low-risk, first-time offending youth brought to the JDC for probable cause misdemeanor domestic assault offenses have been sent to The Bridge for Youth or St. Joseph's Home for Children - both Safe Shelters - rather than being detained in the JDC. Ninety-seven percent of youth referred to Safe Shelter successfully appeared for court.

The Community Coach Program was launched July 1, 2009, to provide additional supervision and support for youth released from the JDC. Of the 369 youth referred to Community Coaches, two-thirds successfully appeared for court hearings.

The MET (Monitoring, Education, and Training) Program began successfully serving youth in 2009 as a less restrictive community-based consequence program that combines house arrest, Sentencing to Service, and education programs.

Since January 2010, an Evening Reporting Center at Shiloh Temple in north Minneapolis has provided programming during evening hours when youth are most at risk for delinquent behaviors.

According to Community Coach Glynn Merriewether, “We have been very effective, especially in getting kids to come to court.”

Interested members of the public are welcome to attend a community forum on October 7, 2010, 6:30 pm at North Commons Park, 1801 James Avenue North, Minneapolis as well as JDAI Steering Committee meetings, 6-8 pm at Martin Luther King Park in Minneapolis on October 14, 2010 and December 9, 2010.


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