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Indiana Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative

Indiana joined the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) in 2006.  JDAI is a bipartisan effort with public, private and community partnership for juvenile justice system improvement.  The initiative focuses on the reallocation of public resources from mass incarceration toward investment in youth, families, and communities.  This reinvestment provides an opportunity for lasting improvement to public safety.

JDAI is the most replicated juvenile justice system reform effort implemented nationwide.  For over 25 years, JDAI has proven that the juvenile justice system’s dual goals of promoting positive youth development and enhancing public safety are not in conflict and can be greatly strengthened by eliminating the unnecessary or inappropriate use of secure detention.  Indiana is one of approximately 300 JDAI sites in 40 states and the District of Columbia to implement the Eight Core Strategies to enhance and improve their juvenile justice systems.  These sites are home to approximately 30% of the nation’s youth ages 10 – 17.

Marion County joined the JDAI in 2006, becoming the first JDAI site in Indiana.  By the end of 2016, the County had reduced admissions to detention by 66.4% and the average daily population in detention had fallen by 40.8%.  During this same period of time, IDOC commitments were decreased by 52.5% and the number of felony petitions filed has also been reduced by 59.6%.  The County has saved millions of taxpayer dollars previously used for incarceration, through the use of less expensive and more effective community-based alternative supervision programs for youth.

In 2009 and 2010, four (4) additional Indiana counties became JDAI sites—Johnson, Lake, Porter, and Tippecanoe. Three (3) more sites were welcomed into Indiana’s JDAI expansion in 2011 and 2012—Clark, Elkhart, and Howard counties.

In 2014, the Indiana JDAI expanded to include an additional 11 counties.  These counties include:  Allen, Bartholomew, Boone, Delaware, Henry, LaGrange, LaPorte, Madison, Monroe, St. Joseph, and Wayne.

Indiana JDAI again expanded during 2016, adding 12 more counties.  These counties include: Cass, Grant, Hamilton, Hendricks, Owen, Pulaski, Ripley, Scott, Starke, Steuben, Wabash and Whitley. JDAI is being implemented in a total of 31 counties across the state, home to approximately 69% of Indiana’s youth ages 10 – 17; over 500,000 kids!

At the end of 2016, Indiana JDAI Counties overall experienced a 53% reduction in admissions to secure detention, a 41% reduction in the average daily population in secure detention, a 47% decline in felony petitions filed, and DOC commitments were down from 634 during the counties’ baseline years to 367—a 42% reduction!

As one of the first states in the nation to implement JDAI on a statewide basis, Indiana continues to be a national leader in advancing the cause of an equitable and effective juvenile justice system.

For further information, please contact Nancy Wever at

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