Julia Thatcher

Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015

Alternatives to juvenile detention discussed

5,952 juveniles were detained in 2014 according to Arizona Juvenile courts. The Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative, or JDAI, looks to provide other options to putting kids and teens in detention centers or even solitary confinement. The organization held a national conference Sept. 28 through Sept. 30 in Phoenix.

At the conference, members shared ideas to reform and improve the court system for youths. Among those who shared their opinions and advocated for the program were adults who previously went through the court system as children, but didn’t have the option of alternative confinement.

Hernan C, who chose only to go by his last initial, works as the youth partnership advisor for JDAI. “The impact they system had on my personal life,” he said “Could have easily led me to either be further into the justice system and possibly keeping me there for the rest of my life.” He explained that when he promotes alternatives, he believes that young people are capable of change.

According to the JDAI, arrested youth who don’t have alternatives and end up being detained are less likely to graduate college and find a job. They are also more likely to end up back in detention facilities and in court systems.

“We all know that kids that end up in our juvenile detention facilities and deep within justice system often have worst outcomes in terms of education and just overall outcomes,” JDAI Arizona State Coordinator Angie Lopez said. “We’re really trying to partner with folks to ensure we have community based alternatives.”

JDAI was founded over 20 years ago. The 2014 progress report states that the organization is now able to reach more than 25 percent of the total U.S. youth population.

.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }