Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Alternatives to Detention

Studies show that juvenile detention often does more harm than good -- especially during the period between when being cited and appearing before a judge. The California Bar Journal has an article describing a program in Santa Cruz that has the teens in supervised evening activities plus a weekend day of community service instead of locking them up. It seems to work for the kids -- AND it save the state a lot of money too. An Alternative to Juvenile Detention, Cal. B.J., Feb. 2007.

The program in Santa Cruz is supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, whose Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative is working on similar programs around the country. At at the JDAI website, you can find studies showing the results of test programs. There are now about 75 sites in 19 states and DC. Looking at a recent newsletter (Casey Connects, winter 2006), I happened to see that a program in Tacoma (Pierce County) has enabled the county to close a 50-unit wing of the detention center; the county reallocated $800,000 per year to detention alternative programs. Pierce County's diversion program is described here.

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