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Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative Celebrates Five Years

Posted: Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) has marked its fifth anniversary by announcing that it 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 since 2005.

Hennepin County's JDAI, formed with the goal of furthering 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. 

JDAI has focused on policy changes and community-based programs designed to support youth and ensure that only those who pose a risk to public safety are detained in the JDC.

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.
  • 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, sentence to serve, and education programs.
  • 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.
  • The Community Coach Program was launched July 1, 2009, to provide additional supervision and support for youth released from the JDC.
  • Since Jan. 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.