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                            ACCOMPLISHMENTS – 2009

      Dr. Amy Seeherman, Project/Grants Manager, JDAI State Coordinator

The Department of Youth Services (DYS) has made significant progress in reforming
detention practices in Massachusetts through the efforts of the Juvenile Detention
Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). By focusing on the core elements of the JDAI model,
including interagency collaboration and data-driven policies and practices, DYS has
begun to reduce reliance on secure detention and experience costs savings without having
experienced an increased risk to public safety.

The hallmark of 2009 was the development and implementation of a statewide detention
reduction strategy. Commissioner Jane Tewksbury created the detention reduction plan
to improve statewide detention practices, while at the same time enabling DYS to
implement budget cuts during the current fiscal crisis in the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts. In order to protect services for the most at-risk youth in the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the youth committed to DYS, the Commissioner
allocated budget cuts to detention programs as part of an accelerated detention reduction
strategy. Since July 1, 2009, DYS reduced its secure pre-trial detention capacity by
nearly 17% from 300 beds to 250 beds.

In preparation for the implementation of the statewide detention reduction strategy,
budget legislation was filed by DYS which clarified the Department’s authority to place
detained youth outside of locked secure detention facilities. As part of the detention
reduction strategy, DYS opened a reception center for pre-trial detainees identified as low
risk for failure to appear through the use of an objective risk assessment instrument (RAI)
in Worcester County on February 1, 2010. The goal of the CRRC is to divert low risk
youth from secure detention through the identification of more appropriate and less costly
alternative placements. The reception center is modeled on the successful reception
centers operating in other JDAI sites: Multnomah County, Oregon; Albuquerque, New
Mexico; and Indianapolis, Indiana.

The following sections of the report summarize the milestones we achieved in 2009. It is
organized within the framework of the eight JDAI core strategies.


In 2009, year three of the Massachusetts detention reform effort, the JDAI interagency
collaborative continued to educate external stakeholders about detention reform in the
statewide and pilot site steering committee meetings, JDAI state-level and pilot site
subcommittee meetings, our annual JDAI state conference, and special meetings with our
partner agencies (e.g., meetings with the judiciary, meetings with public schools,

meetings with state agencies and meetings with provider agencies). We have added
members to the statewide and pilot site steering committees, as well as to the state-level
subcommittees from the two new JDAI pilot sites in Middlesex and Essex counties. We
provided educational materials and technical assistance to familiarize new collaborative
members with the JDAI model. With an understanding of the values, core strategies and
goals of detention reform, the JDAI collaborative, the pilot site steering committees, and
the state-level subcommittees conducted an inventory of their work in 2007, developed
work plans to guide their activities during 2008, and based on their accomplishments,
refined those work plans in 2009.

Educating Department of Youth Services (DYS) staff and other juvenile justice
stakeholders about the goals and priorities of detention reform also takes place at state
and national JDAI conferences. DYS staff planned, attended and participated fully in the
second Massachusetts JDAI conference on September 22, 2009. Teams from each JDAI
pilot site (Suffolk and Worcester counties), and from the new JDAI sites in Essex and
Middlesex counties, along with juvenile justice stakeholders on the statewide steering
committee, and other staff from our partner agencies, attended sessions focused on three
of the eight JDAI core strategies. Juvenile justice professionals from DYS and other key
JDAI stakeholders chaired sessions focusing on:

       (1) The Massachusetts Risk Assessment Instrument (RAI) and the preliminary
       results of the RAI pilot test;

       (2) Special Detention Populations with a focus on the Department of Youth
       Services (DYS)/Department of Children and Families (DCF) Memorandum of
       Understanding (MOU) that was signed by Commissioners of both agencies in
       January, 2009, delineating a collaborative case management strategy to reduce the
       number of DCF youth in detention, as well as shorten their lengths of stay; and

       (3) Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) with an emphasis on past efforts to
       address DMC in Massachusetts, examination of existing DMC data, and a
       presentation of the DMC Subcommittee work plan and their priorities for action.

A fourth “track” was offered, entitled “JDAI 101” for conference attendees who wished
to learn more about the fundamentals of JDAI, and was particularly appropriate for
attendees from the new JDAI sites in Middlesex and Essex counties.


In 2009, DYS continued to generate routine JDAI management and statistical reports and
conduct routine reviews of data reports with the collaborative, focusing on the relevance
of the data to inform policy and practice. For example, DYS described detention
utilization statewide and at pilot sites through a wide variety of reports, including
monthly DYS statewide populations reports; quarterly detention census reports, yearly
detention trend reports; and quarterly statistical reports, 6-month progress reports and an
annual results report required by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF).

At the first quarterly JDAI Statewide Steering Committee meeting of 2009, DYS
Research Analyst, Rob Tansi, gave a presentation of DYS Detention Trends, comparing
2008 detention utilization data to 2007 data. The results of this comparison revealed
significant reductions in a number of areas:

          There was a 9% decrease in detentions statewide, and more specifically, there was
           a 20% decrease in detentions in the Metro region (Suffolk County) and an 11%
           decrease in the Central Region (Worcester County). Out of the five DYS regions,
           the largest reductions in detention utilization occurred in the Metro and Central
           regions, the two regions where JDAI was originally implemented in 2007.

          In 2008, there were also fewer females in secure detention (11% reduction) and a
           decrease in less serious offenders in secure detention statewide (15% fewer grid
           level 11 offenders and 13% fewer grid level 2 offenders), youth who pose little
           risk to community safety.

          The results of the comparison between 2008 and 2007 detention data indicated
           reductions in the number of minority group members in secure detention. In the
           JDAI sites in Worcester County, the number of non-white youth decreased by
           13%, while the number of white youth decreased by 7%, and in Suffolk County,
           the number of non-white youth decreased by 22%, while the number of white
           youth in secure detention decreased by 12%. Statewide, the number of non-white
           youth decreased by 10% in secure detention, while the number of white youth
           decreased by 8%.

Some of the policy/practice changes that may have had an impact on the results include:

           (1) the placement of court liaisons in Suffolk County and Worcester County
           Juvenile Courts;
           (2) the diversion of child welfare clients from locked secure detention through a
           Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Massachusetts Department of
           Children, Youth, and Families (DCF);
           (3) implementation of a protocol statewide which specifies the process by which a
           detained youth 12 and under should be handled while in custody, resulting in the
           majority of detained youth under 13 being diverted from locked secure detention
           to foster care;
           (4) the implementation of new procedures for bail review in Suffolk County,
           making bail reviews easier to administer; and
           (4) a greater understanding of the detention population through the pilot site
           detention utilization studies and identification of special populations who could be
           better served in the community.

    Youth in DYS custody are assigned a Grid Level – the more serious the offense, the higher the grid level.

In 2009, DYS collected additional quantitative data to deepen our understanding of
special detention cases. DYS was concerned about the use of secure detention for those
youth in detention as a result of a 30-day court-ordered diagnostic evaluation, also known
as a 68A evaluation, since many of these youth do not pose a risk of flight and could
remain safely in the community and have the court-ordered evaluation done by the court
clinic or a third party provider. A study was undertaken by the JDAI Data Subcommittee
about youth who are placed in secure detention as a result of a court-ordered 68A
evaluation. We examined and analyzed an entire year of 68A data and the findings
revealed that almost half (47.7%) of the 68A cases were being ordered in Worcester
County, and almost 83% of the 68A cases involved youth charged with less serious
offenses (Grids 1 and 2). Moreover, in all DYS regions, the majority (78%) of 68A
youth were released back to the community when they returned to court and almost 60%
(58.3%) did not reoffend upon release, suggesting that these evaluations can probably be
done safely in the community, thereby avoiding the negative impact of confinement.
Finally, DYS attorneys have been working with the Department of Mental Health (DMH)
to draft legislation to require that 68A court-ordered diagnostic evaluations be done post
adjudication as an aid in sentencing and in a non-custodial setting, unless the youth is
already committed to DYS or has met the bail statute criteria for detention. In 2010,
efforts will be made to secure stakeholder support for this bill.

Objective Admission Policies and Practices

The Risk Assessment Instrument (RAI) Subcommittee has been meeting since April 2007
to develop a Massachusetts risk screening tool. After the RAI was drafted in 2008 and
there were extensive discussions among JDAI stakeholders, it was agreed that the RAI
would be field tested on at least 300 referrals at the front door of DYS detention during
the early part of 2009.

On April 1, 2009, DYS began the field testing of the draft RAI by applying it to all
detention referrals statewide to assess the potential impact of the screening tool. DYS
has continued to apply the RAI to all detention admissions, thereby increasing the size of
the cohort and enhancing our understanding of detention trends. With the results, we
have been able to assess the detention and release rates for specific groups (e.g., by RAI
score, offense, gender, or race) and also determine if the RAI instrument needs to be
modified to improve its validity. Finally the pilot test offers a unique opportunity to
collect and analyze other detention data (e.g., involvement with DCF, whether a 68A
court-ordered diagnostic evaluation was ordered, age, race and other demographics) to
further educate us about the state’s detention population and the factors affecting the
detention decision-making process.

As noted above, for the purposes of the field test, we applied the RAI to all youth where
the detention decision has already been made (i.e., the RAI is being administered at the
door of detention rather than at the bail hearing). This approach allows us to view what
might have happened if the instrument had been used to guide the initial detention
decision, comparing the actual decision with the RAI risk score. The results of the
current RAI field test are based on a geographically representative census of 1092

detained youth and are consistent with the preliminary results from the April, 2009 data
collection. More specifically, the RAI was applied to all detention admissions across the
five DYS regions from April through July, 2009, increasing the geographically
representative census size under study and thereby enhancing our understanding of
statewide detention trends. Results from this data collection revealed,

       That 33% of the census of 1092 youth, scored at low risk of failure to appear
        (FTA), suggesting that they do not meet the criteria of the Massachusetts bail
        statute and may be suitable candidates to release to home;

       30% of the juveniles referred to detention from April though July, 2009 scored at
        medium risk of failure to appear, providing evidence that these youth may be
        suitable for alternatives to detention; and

       37% scored at high risk of failure to appear, suggesting that these juveniles are
        appropriate candidates for secure detention.

Other noteworthy findings included:

       One third (1/3) of the entire RAI low cohort resided in Worcester County;

       100% of the low cohort had no history of failure to appear;

       90% of the low cohort committed less serious offenses (DYS Grids 1 and 2),
        providing further evidence of their suitability for home placement;

       The majority of youth in the RAI medium cohort (79%) had no FTA history and
        committed low-level offenses (73%); and

       Finally, 65% of the youth in the RAI high cohort had no FTA history and 63% of
        those youth who scored in the high range, committed less serious offenses (DYS
        Grids 1 and 2).

To enhance the findings of the DYS RAI pilot test, one of our JDAI partners, the Youth
Advocacy Department (YAD) of the Committee for Public Counsel Services is also
conducting a field test of the RAI, as part of a larger record review in that agency (YAD
provides advocacy and legal representation to youth who are unable to pay for counsel in
delinquency, youthful offender cases, and related school disciplinary matters).
What is distinct about their pilot test is that they are applying the RAI to youth who are
referred for detention, as well as youth who have not been detained, an option DYS does
not have as a result of insufficient access to juvenile arraignment data.

Alternatives to Detention

One of the guiding principles of JDAI is that detention alternatives should be planned,
implemented, managed and monitored based on accurate data. Therefore, one of the first

steps in assessing the current needs and availability of detention alternatives in
Massachusetts is to examine current data. Monthly meetings of the Detention
Alternatives Subcommittee resumed in September 2009 and during the November and
December, 2009 meetings, the Subcommittee began reviewing RAI low and medium
pilot data and detention trend data. The second step in the process is to create profiles of
the detained youth in each pilot site. This will require further “drilling down” of the
current medium RAI pilot data. Some of the variables to be considered in the analysis
include: age, gender, current offense, race, grid level, length of stay, whether a youth is a
probation violator or has been detained as a result of a 68A court-ordered evaluation, and
if the youth is a Department of Children and Families (DCF) client. Another major task
to be completed by the Subcommittee is to revisit the community resource mapping
exercise that was conducted earlier in Suffolk County and Worcester County and update
the information. It will also be necessary to do the community mapping of resources in
the new Massachusetts JDAI sites in Middlesex and Essex counties. Finally, the work of
the Subcommittee will involve conducting research about detention alternatives in other
JDAI sites across the country. The aforementioned data sources, the revised inventory of
resources, and a review of the services in other JDAI sites will inform the Subcommittee
as to what types of programs need to be created and will be the basis for the Detention
Alternatives Subcommittee’s recommendations to the Statewide Steering Committee.

Case Processing

Similar to other JDAI sites around the country, probation violators continue to be
detained in high numbers and have a large impact on detention utilization in
Massachusetts. In an effort to reduce the prevalence of these cases, in 2009, the Case
Processing Subcommittee chose to address this special population in their work. In
particular, members of the Subcommittee voiced that before serious recommendations
could be made, a study of violations of probation (VOP) was essential. Important data to
review included: the number of VOPs held each year; the reasons underlying the
detention (or the type of probation violation); whether bail was an option; and whether
alternative placements were considered.

Since DYS has limited VOP data, e.g., DYS has the number, but not the reasons for a
youth being held, the Subcommittee requested data from the two JDAI pilot sites. The
court liaisons were responsible for collecting available VOP data in Worcester and
Suffolk counties. The results of the data collection revealed that the overwhelming
majority of probation violators were detained as a result of technical violations. More

      In May, 2009, twenty-four (24) youth in Worcester County were held on technical
       violations, three (3) were held on a new arrest and six (6) youth had their bail

      In July, 2009, thirty (30) youth in Worcester County were held in detention, all as
       a result of technical violations of probation.

      In July, 2009, seventy-two (72) youth were held as a result of probation violations
       out of the Boston Juvenile Court (BJC). Out of the seventy-two (72) probation
       violators, half of the youth (50%) were detained on technical violations, twenty-
       nine (29) youth were detained as a result of a new arrest and seven (7) youth had
       both violated their conditions and had a new arrest.

      These findings were consistent with the results of a Suffolk University Law
       School Juvenile Justice Center study about youth on probation who were violated
       in the Boston Juvenile Court from September 2007 through December 2008.
       Based on these data, the researchers found that almost half (46.4%) of the
       probation violations were as a result of a technical violation; almost one quarter of
       the violations (23.7%) were ordered as a result of a new arrest; and almost 30%
       (29.9%) of the probation violations were for both technical violations and new

      The 2009 Annual Report of the Trial Court of Massachusetts indicates that 66%
       of all juvenile violations of probation are for technical violations while 33% are
       the result of a new offense. Data is not currently available as to the percentage of
       each group who are also detained at DYS awaiting their probation surrender

Special Detention Cases

The Special Populations subcommittee identified four populations that consume
significant detention resources and/or would likely benefit from detention alternatives
and are in need of special consideration: (1) Department of Children and Families (DCF)
– involved youth in detention; (2) youth in detention as a result of a probation violation;
(3) youth in detention as a result of a 30-day court-ordered diagnostic evaluation (68A);
and (4) female youth in detention.

In January 2009, DYS Commissioner Jane Tewksbury and DCF Commissioner Angelo
McClain signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between DYS and DCF. It
outlines a joint understanding between DYS and DCF to work cooperatively to reduce
the unnecessary use of secure detention when a child who is in DCF care and custody is
arrested and held in pre-trial detention. The agreement, authored by DYS Assistant
Commissioner of Operations, Peter Forbes, and DCF Assistant Commissioner of
Planning and Program Development, Robert Wentworth, sets forth underlying principles
of the agreement, designation of responsibilities, and a process that the DCF worker
should follow in the event that youth in the care or custody of DCF are held in secure
detention at DYS. The agreement also includes a higher level of information sharing of
caseload data to monitor progress and compliance, and proactive case management of
this special population. Currently, DCF staff is an integral part of the weekly detention
meetings in all the DYS regions, even in areas where there is no JDAI site (e.g., Western
and Southeast DYS regions).

DYS is also concerned about the use of detention for youth that have been detained as a
result of a 30-day court-ordered diagnostic evaluation, also known as a 68A evaluation.
Preliminary analysis of this population supports the conclusion that many of those youth
do not pose a risk of flight and can remain safely in the community the court-ordered
evaluation to be done by the court clinic or a third party provider (See “Data” section on
page 3 of this report for more information about the 68A study).

Finally, at the Special Populations subcommittee meeting in December 2009, with
progress reported on reducing the number of DCF youth in detention and the number of
youth detained as a result of a 68A evaluation, the subcommittee decided to focus its
attention in 2010 on two new challenging special populations in need of reform
strategies: girls in detention and detained youth with mental health issues.

Conditions of Confinement

In June, 2008, DYS staff and members of facility inspection teams, including juvenile
justice system and community representatives from Suffolk and Worcester counties,
attended the “JDAI Conditions of Confinement: Self Assessment Training” to learn how
to prepare for and conduct a detention facility assessment, thereby improving conditions
of confinement for youth in detention.

The Worcester County self-assessment team completed the inspection of three detention
programs and the Suffolk County assessment team completed the inspection of two
detention programs. They reviewed, discussed and compiled all the information gathered
from their respective assessments, presented the results at a “brief-out” and developed
corrective action plans.

In 2010, facility inspections teams from the new JDAI sites in Middlesex and Essex
counties will be trained on the development of an assessment tool for detention programs
and how to conduct a detention facility self-inspection. With plans to eventually expand
JDAI into the Western and Southeast DYS regions, we anticipate that additional staff
from those regions will participate in the upcoming facility inspection training.

Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC)

In 2009, the DMC Subcommittee identified three priorities and drafted a work plan to
meet these goals: (1) reduce the number/proportion of minority youth who go into
detention; (2) increase the likelihood that minority youth who go into detention will be
bailed; and (3) reduce the length of stay in detention for minority youth. The DMC work
plan highlights activities that: support robust data collection and reporting to inform
DMC reduction strategies; use data to track DMC rates at the point of detention; and
champion the DMC perspective with other JDAI subcommittees and the larger JDAI
Statewide Steering Committee.

The DMC Subcommittee was able to showcase their work at the second Massachusetts
JDAI Conference in September, 2009. Their conference workshop included a discussion

of past efforts to address DMC in Massachusetts on both the federal and local levels, an
examination of existing DMC data (e.g., detention trend data, detention utilization study
data, and relative rate index data), a presentation of the DMC Subcommittee work plan
and the Subcommittee’s priorities for action. Their strategies for reducing DMC in the
juvenile justice system involve ongoing review of reliable data to track trends in the
system, accessing training and/or technical assistance on DMC; development of
culturally-appropriate alternatives to detention; and integrating DMC in all facets of

Finally, based on the DMC Subcommittee’s priorities for action, a team of eleven (11)
juvenile justice professionals, including staff from DYS, provider agencies, the defense
bar, the judiciary, and other agencies traveled to Chicago in October, 2009 to attend the
Racial and Ethnic Disparities Reduction Training sponsored by the W. Haywood Burns
Institute. The purpose of the training was to help JDAI sites overcome some of the
challenges to developing and implementing detention reform strategies to reduce racial
and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system. Some of the lessons learned from the
training were the importance of ongoing collection and analysis of data, maintaining the
correct group membership and defining short-term achievable goals. Consequently, team
members agreed that the DMC Subcommittee needs to bring additional stakeholders,
including community members, to the table to discuss this issue, examine and analyze
additional data sets, and establish an active presence on other JDAI subcommittees.


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