2007 JDAI Accomplishments (Word) by cli12236



                             ACCOMPLISHMENTS – 2007

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

The Department of Youth Services (DYS) has made significant progress in the multi-site
planning and implementation process to reduce reliance on secure detention in the
Massachusetts juvenile justice system. DYS has based its detention reform effort on the
successful Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) model, developed,
implemented and evaluated by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF). In October
2006, Massachusetts was selected by AECF to participate in JDAI and Worcester and
Suffolk counties were designated as the two pilot sites for detention reform in
Massachusetts. DYS held its official JDAI “Kick-Off” meeting on February 1, 2007 and
DYS staff and other juvenile justice stakeholders, as well as staff from AECF, were in

This report summarizes the milestones we achieved in 2007. It is organized within the
framework of the eight JDAI core strategies.


In 2007, a JDAI leadership and governance structure was developed to support and direct
the detention reform process. It includes a DYS Detention Reform Policy Team, also
known as the internal JDAI Working Group. This group is comprised of the
Commissioner and members of the DYS senior staff and is responsible for day-to-day
management of detention reform at the state level. Several members of the internal JDAI
working group identified and met with key stakeholders to introduce plans for detention
reform, to educate juvenile justice system stakeholders about reform, to seek input about
reform, and to build a foundation for ongoing and lasting collaboration. As a result of
that initial work, the Statewide Steering Committee was created. It is responsible for
developing a vision and values statement to guide the reform effort, as well as general
oversight of the detention reform effort. In August 2006, the Statewide Steering
Committee met for the first time, representing a cross section of key juvenile justice
stakeholders; in December 2006, the Steering Committee deliberated on a “vision and
values” statement for the initiative; and in 2007, the Statewide Steering Committee
finalized the “vision and values” statement. In addition to the internal JDAI working
group and Statewide Steering Committee, the administrative structure also includes pilot
site steering committees, groups in Worcester and Suffolk County that are made up of
local juvenile justice stakeholders. They are responsible for developing and
implementing a reform work plan for each site and day-to-day management of the reform
at the site level. In 2007, the pilot site steering committees completed a baseline
description of detention in their respective counties using system mapping, a process that
delineates the key decision points in the juvenile justice process. Finally, the structure of

JDAI in Massachusetts includes a number of subcommittees. These subcommittees are
made up of local juvenile justice system partners and DYS staff to address distinct
aspects of detention reform. More specifically, they include: (1) the Data Subcommittee;
(2) the Risk Assessment Subcommittee; (3) the Disproportionate Minority Contact
Subcommittee; (4) the Detention Alternatives Subcommittee; and (5) the Case
Processing Subcommittee. All the subcommittees, with the exception of the DMC
Subcommittee, were “chartered” in 2007, and the Data and RAI Subcommittees held
meetings in 2007.

In addition to educating DYS staff and external juvenile justice stakeholders about
detention reform in the Statewide and Pilot Site Steering Committee meetings and
subcommittee meetings, a team of ten juvenile justice professionals, including five DYS
staff and representatives from the judiciary, juvenile probation, Department of Children
and Families (DCF), District Attorney’s Office, and Committee for Public Counsel
Services in Suffolk County visited the JDAI model site in Bernalillo County
(Albuquerque), New Mexico in June, 2007. The site visit served as a great source of
practical information about JDAI, through presentations by site staff, peer discussion and
on-site observation. To observe first hand the workings of a model JDAI site, another
team of juvenile justice professionals from Worcester County visited the JDAI model site
in Bernalillo County, New Mexico in September, 2007. Finally, at the end of September
2007, a delegation of eleven juvenile justice professionals, including five DYS sta ff and
representatives from the juvenile court, court clinic, juvenile probation, and the Executive
Office of Health and Human Services attended the JDAI National Inter-Site Conference
in Dallas, Texas.


In 2007, the JDAI collaborative began to engage in discussions on using data to drive the
detention reform effort and producing routine descriptive statistics on detention
utilization. More specifically, DYS established an internal group, including detention
coordinators, to examine current practices in detention utilization with the goal of
identifying problems that can be targeted for change (e.g., age 12 and under juvenile
offender cohort). In addition, a weekly bail report was created that includes demographic
and other critical information about youth in detention. It provides an update for those
staff involved in JDAI about the status of youth in detention, and it serves as a vehicle for
information sharing with JDAI partner agencies. In addition, in 2007, DYS Research
Analyst, Rob Tansi, began producing bi-monthly detention census reports including the
following data: age, race, gender, DYS region, grid level (offense severity), youth held on
probation violations, the bail amount, 68A diagnostic evaluations, and youth who are
DCF-involved. Finally, during the summer of 2007, the JDAI Data Subcommittee
embarked on a detention utilization study to provide a baseline profile of youth in
detention in each of the pilot sites.

Objective Admissions Policies and Practices

The Risk Assessment Instrument (RAI) Subcommittee convened its first meeting in April
2007. At the second meeting in August 2007, the JDAI collaborative received training on
RAI development, testing, and implementation. The training was conducted by David
Steinhart, a technical assistance provider for the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF).
During the fall of 2007, the RAI Subcommittee began to review existing risk assessment
instruments from different JDAI sites and from that pool of risk screening tools, decided
to modify the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice Detention Assessment Instrument
(DAI) and tailor it to the specific circumstances in Massachusetts.

Alternatives to Detention

In the first year of the detention reform effort, it is expected that sites will identify areas
of policy, practice or programming that can easily be targeted for change. The AECF
refers to areas of policy, practice or programming that stakeholders believe can be readily
changed to produce improvements such as “low hanging fruit.” For example, members of
the JDAI collaborative agreed to focus their attention on youth age 12 and under, since
this is a population where strategies other than secure detention can be readily applied.
As a result, with increased attention to this youth cohort through meetings and new
practices, the number of youth age twelve and under in detention has decreased from 70
in 2007 to 40 in 2008.

Case Processing

The Case Processing Subcommittee was “chartered” in 2007 to review case processing
policy and practice in the JDAI pilot sites and make recommendations as to how sites can
reduce unnecessary delay, while upholding due process. It held the first meeting in
January, 2008.

In 2007, a court expediter/court liaison position was created in the Central region and the
court expediter began working in the Worcester Juvenile Court. The court expediter is
primarily responsible for collecting detailed information at intake when a client is
detained, tracking the client through his/her stay in detention. The court expediter also
educates local stakeholders, including the court, probation, clinical staff and staff from
DMH, the schools, and DCF about JDAI.

Special Detention Cases

AECF has identified “special” detention cases that have proven to be challenging to
reform efforts in other JDAI sites: youth detained on warrants, youth detained for
probation violations, and youth in detention awaiting DCF placement. The Special
Populations Subcommittee will focus on the aforementioned “special” detention cases,
but will also, based on available data and/or further data collection, identify other
populations in need of special strategies. For example, juvenile justice stakeholders in
Massachusetts have voiced that there are certain groups of detained youth such as those

youth with histories of mental illness or behavioral problems who commit low-level
offenses; this cohort would likely benefit from detention alternatives and is in need of
special consideration.

The Special Populations Subcommittee was “chartered” in 2007, and held its first
meeting in February, 2008.

Conditions of Confinement

In 2007, a technical assistance team from AECF came to Massachusetts to conduct a site
system assessment, an analysis of juvenile detention policies, programs and practices. In
addition to stakeholder interviews, the AECF team reviewed the JDAI vision and values
statement, detention population data, the 2005 DYS Annual Report, the Massachusetts
bail statute, and system maps developed by the Pilot Site Steering Committees. In
addition, they conducted site visits to the Paul T Leahy Detention Center and the Metro
Youth Service Center. Both the findings and the recommendations of the assessment
were presented to the Statewide Steering Committee and to the pilot site steering
committees to provide guidance in the planning and implementation of the detention
reform initiative. The assessment did not address conditions of confinement, as it is not a
problematic issue in Massachusetts. The AECF team reported that the “detention
facilities appeared clean and safe.”

Racial/Ethnic Disparities and Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC)
The JDAI Collaborative began developing strategies to reduce DMC in 2007 with an
examination of baseline data of youth in detention. The results of the detention
utilization study can serve as a springboard for the discussion of DMC and racial and
ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system. Periodic review of policy and practice is
another way of identifying racial and ethnic bias. Routine management reports (e.g.,
JDAI quarterly reports, DYS bi-monthly detention census reports, etc.) are also used to
monitor progress toward reducing racial disparities and DMC. Finally, the development
of a race and gender neutral objective risk screening instrument can help in eliminating
bias in detention decision making.


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