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NJ’s Juvenile Detention Reforms: A National Model?

How good is New Jersey’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)? Top officials in Washington State sure think it is very successful. A delegation from the state of Washington are in the Garden State for a two-day working session focusing on statewide implementation of the program.

jail cell
Andy Sacks, Getty Images

The group here to attend the session includes a Supreme Court Justice, Superior Court Judges, three State Legislators, Juvenile Court Administrators and leaders from Washington State’s Office of Juvenile Justice, Administrative Office of the Courts, Prosecutors Association and the Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Association.

“Every day, in every state, young people are held in secure detention centers not because they need to be there, but because so few other options exist,” said Acting New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman. “I am proud to say that New Jersey is changing its juvenile justice system and redirecting young lives without negative consequences to public safety.”

A primary goal of JDAI is to ensure that only to ensure that serious and chronic youthful offenders are detained, and that effective alternatives are available for other minors who can be safely supervised in the community while awaiting final court disposition. The initiative provides a framework of strategies that help reduce the inappropriate use of secure juvenile detention, while maintaining public safety and court appearance rates. A major focus of the work is to reduce the disproportionate use of detention for those under 18-years-old.

“We are delighted to welcome colleagues from Washington State to talk to them about our efforts to reform the juvenile justice system,” said New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. “We are committed to moving forward with statewide implementation of JDAI and are pleased to share our experiences with other states.”


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