County starts initiative to create alternatives to juvenile detention
Vancouver, WA – More than 150 local officials and community members are invited to help launch Clark County’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative during a 3-5 p.m. kickoff Wednesday, Jan. 30. The event will be in the sixth-floor hearing room of the Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St.
They will hear an overview of the initiative and remarks by the local executive committee, followed by a question and answer period.
Elected officials, educators, attorneys, social service representatives, community and non-profit leaders, law enforcement officers and treatment providers will attend.
The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) is a national program launched in 1992 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. It seeks to: eliminate inappropriate or unnecessary use of secure detention; minimize re-arrest and failure to appear rates; ensure appropriate conditions of secure confinement; reduce racial and ethnic disparities; and, redirect resources to sustain successful reforms.
The initiative focuses on detention because youths in the juvenile justice system are often unnecessarily confined at great expense and with unintended negative consequences for their development and public safety.
Analyzing data, Clark County found more than 70 percent of confined youth are serving time for misdemeanor offenses and probation violations. Many do not pose a public safety threat, and community-based detention provides them the opportunity to stay in school and remain connected to their families.
“This initiative aligns with our balanced and restorative justice philosophy by continuing collaboration with the community to ensure public safety, accountability for youth and increased youth competencies,” said Patrick Escamilla, Clark County Juvenile Court administrator. “By seeking to meaningfully address the needs of victims and communities, as well as the youth, we can create appropriate responses and interventions for all youth in the juvenile justice system.”
The initiative is in place in more than 150 jurisdictions in 32 states and the District of Columbia. In Washington, it is in place in Adams, Benton-Franklin, King, Mason, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane and Whatcom counties.
Clark County has a long history of implementing effective programs and strategies for youths in contact with the juvenile justice system, as well as for victims and communities.
Most recently, in 2006, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded the county a grant through the Models for Change Initiative. Clark County is a national model for its collaborative approach to truancy. The grant provided resources to evaluate, enhance and position the program for replication in other locales.
A year earlier, Clark County started Juvenile Recovery Court, a program focused on reducing substance abuse and criminal behavior while increasing personal responsibility through intense court intervention and treatment.
In 2002, Connections, a mental health program, was developed to meet the growing needs of youth in our community.
In 2000, Juvenile Court committed to a restorative justice approach to its policies and practices. The commitment requires priorities that balance community safety, accountability and competency development.
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