2016-02-02 / Front Page

Owen One Of Thirteen Counties To Join Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative

Staff Report

Thirteen counties will join Indiana’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) this year. The expansion is thanks to a partnership of all three branches of government including state funding which will allow Cass, Grant, Hamilton, Harrison, Hendricks, Owen, Pulaski, Ripley, Scott, Starke, Steuben, Wabash, and Whitley counties to become JDAI sites.

JDAI is a national juvenile justice reform initiative developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation which aims to improve outcomes for children in the justice system while ensuring public safety.

Sometimes children in trouble need secure detention, but as Owen County Circuit Court Judge Lori Thatcher Quillen pointed out, other times there are alternatives.

“I was so honored that Owen County was accepted to be a part of the JDAI expansion initiative,” Judge Thatcher Quillen told the Spencer Evening World. “JDAI is administered through the Indiana Criminal justice Institute. It is designed to reduce the juvenile detention population without jeopardizing public safety. The goal of the juvenile system is to rehabilitate juvenile offenders and deter them from becoming adult offenders in the future. We strive to improve the outcomes and welfare for our youth by reducing the traumatic impact of detention by keeping them in school and home.”

JDAI began in Indiana in 2006. With the expansion of the thirteen counties this year, JDAI will include thirty-two counties. JDAI and other juvenile reforms have reportedly allowed the Department of Correction to save over $15 million annually, while re-arrest rates have declined from 25 percent to a reported 10 percent in JDAI counties.

“I have scheduled a meeting with the Indiana Judicial Center and its JDAI team for February 5,” Judge Thatcher Quillen added. “I have invited several key members of our community (representatives of Spencer-Owen Schools, probation, law enforcement, mental health, and the Department of Child Services, along with the public defender and county prosecutor’s offices) to discuss how we want JDAI to work in our community.”

She noted how the process to fully adopt and understand the curriculum, strategies and core principles of JDAI and put the initiative into action in Owen County could take upwards of three years.

“I want all the stakeholders to be committed to doing what is best for our youth but have it also be reflective of our community’s values,” she said. “I think this team, once formed, will help put into place much better mechanisms in dealing with our juvenile offenders. Those of us who are parents or work with teenagers know that compulsive behavior is not unusual. The portion of their brains that allow them to not react to just impulse has not been fully formed. Providing training on how to better diffuse the situation will make a huge difference on detention placement and costs to this community and its taxpayers and more importantly to the future of these juveniles.”

Indiana JDAI is overseen by an executive team: the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI), the Indiana Supreme Court, the Indiana Department of Correction (DOC), the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS), and the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA): Division of Mental Health and Addiction.

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2016-02-02 digital edition