A statewide initiative has counties looking at alternatives to juvenile issues other than detention and LaGrange County has hired on a coordinator for the initiative.
Dave Judkins will help the LaGrange County Committee for Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) work on strategies and plans to have options for juveniles besides detention. “We want to find alternatives to help them stay in the community,” Judkins said.
“The committee is working to promote activities of the groups that serve juveniles, the police, probation, and the courts,” added LaGrange Circuit Court Judge Scott VanDerbeck. The committee received a state grant to fund the position of coordinator and selected Judkins to serve in that post, VanDerbeck added.
One goal, Judkins said, is to look for continuity in how the county handles juveniles as well as long-term solutions so that the benefits of keeping juveniles out of detention can continue.
Judkins said that detention for juveniles doesn’t always help. “We’re looking at programs, activities and options to the correctional setting,” he added.
The JDAI started in 1992 and is the most widely used juvenile justice reform initiative in the U.S. It is implemented primarily at the local level, according to the program. It has seen substantial reductions on the reliance of secure detention as well as a reduction in the commitment of juveniles to state custody. The JDAI reports a reduction in juvenile crime overall.