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Juvenile Court gets another tool in Casey Foundation
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The Newton County Juvenile Court will have another tool to reduce juvenile detention and increase public safety starting in August.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation selected Newton County as one of five counties throughout Georgia to participate in the expansion of the juvenile detention alternatives initiative (JDAI) movement.

Newton County Juvenile Court and its stakeholder partners, which include child welfare and juvenile justice, are excited to participate in new program after learning about the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

“Newton County had been researching this work, implementing many of the reduction strategies and attending JDAI conferences to ready the site for the initiative,” said Newton County Juvenile Court Judge Sheri Roberts.

In 2014, the Criminal Justice Reform Council recommended to Governor Nathan Deal that the State of Georgia pursue state scale expansion of JDAI . Last July, Deal appointed juvenile justice stakeholders from around the state to the Georgia JDAI State Steering Committee. The committee voted to expand JDAI to five counties: Newton, Glynn, Fulton, Chatham and Clark. Newton County was voted as one of the five initial counties.

Newton, Glynn, Fulton, Chatham and Clark counties make up the initial cohort. The counties join established JDAI (Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative) sites in Clayton and Rockdale counties. The Newton County Juvenile Court will be responsible for the operation of JDAI. However, Roberts said a leadership team with members from different agencies will provide oversight and guidance.

“When given the opportunity to participate in the JDAI project, Newton County Juvenile Court graciously accepted the offered technical assistance from the Annie E. Casey Foundation” said Roberts. “Newton County was selected to take part because the community is known for its strong collaborative efforts and community commitment to implementation of best practices that benefit our youth and families.”

The JDAI was established by the Casey Foundation in 1992. The Foundation’s model is designed to reduce the number of youth placed in detention while caring for the public safety. The model applies eight core strategies of juvenile detention alternative initiative: collaboration, alternatives to detention, objective admission, data, expedited case processing, special detention cases, reducing racial/ethnic/gender disparities, and conditions of confinement.

Today JDAI is currently in 39 states.

“The model provides a framework to gather necessary data to ensure that we are achieving results,” Roberts said. “It will provide a methodology to ensure that our community is aware that detention alternatives provide better outcomes for our youth. This is a system reform effort that is consistent with the comprehensive juvenile justice reform law enacted in 2013 by Governor Deal.”

This effort is designed to ensure that only youth who pose a high risk to public safety will be confined.

“Other youth who need alternatives to detention should be afforded those opportunities,” Roberts said. “

The Newton County Juvenile Court provides the alternative opportunities. Including house arrest, leg monitors, curfew controls, counsel and advise supervision and a juvenile Drug Court.