Report proposes N.J. spend juvenile detention center money on crime prevention - NJ.com: Featured Entries - Breaking News http://blog.nj.com/ledgerupdates_impact/2009/03/counties_should_reinvest_juven/print.html[3/18/2009 3:44:45 PM] Report proposes N.J. spend juvenile detention center money on crime prevention Posted by cdelacru March 18, 2009 13:36PM With the number of N.J.
juveniles held in detention centers significantly reduced, counties should reinvest detention center funds in prevention and treatment efforts, the state's child advocate said in a report released today . Five years after New Jersey began participating in a national Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative, or JDAI, project, five counties have posted a 44.3 percent drop in the number of youth in detention on any given day, the child advocate reported in an analysis of data provided by the Juvenile Justice Commission. Annual detention center admissions in the five counties declined 41.4 percent from 2003 to 2008, leaving 2,616 fewer youth in detention last year.
MATT RAINEY/THE STAR-LEDGERActing Child Advocate Ronald K. Chen in a 2006 file photo. "This positive trend must be viewed as more than a success," said Acting Child Advocate Ronald K.
Chen. "This is an opportunity to reinvest dollars in juvenile crime prevention and treatment of at-risk youth" "While we recognize that the current fiscal climate is ... more. less.
severe, the wise reinvestment of these funds will pay substantial dividends by further reducing both juvenile crime and the number of youth who must be confined in expensive institutions," Chen said. Since New Jersey joined the JDAI program in 2003, admissions to the state's county detention centers have declined by 25 percent, from 12,499 six years ago to 9,358 in 2007, the last year for which complete statistics are available.<br><br> Recently, Warren County closed its juvenile detention center doors and began sending youth to the facility in Morris County. Over this past year, Passaic and Gloucester counties also announced they would close their youth detention facilities and send youths to neighboring county centers. Report proposes N.J.<br><br> spend juvenile detention center money on crime prevention - NJ.com: Featured Entries - Breaking News http://blog.nj.com/ledgerupdates_impact/2009/03/counties_should_reinvest_juven/print.html[3/18/2009 3:44:45 PM] The report released by the child advocate urges a diminishing role for detention in the state's juvenile justice system. "Research over the last decade has established that while expensive, the use of detention facilities for most juveniles does little to rehabilitate youth or keep youth safe," the report said. "Detention can increase the likelihood that youth will re-offend or re-offend with more serious crimes." The report noted youths placed in detention are often there awaiting court dates or placement in a facility other than their home.<br><br> New Jersey youth, on average, spend 28 days in detention, but some are held 60 days or longer, "separated from their families, communities and school resources," the report said. The child advocate's report recommends that savings from reduced detention populations be used "to improve and expand detention alternatives and to boost services for youth who are involved in the juvenile justice system or at-risk of offending." "Whenever possible, youth must receive appropriate services and treatment within communities and avoid traditional detention settings," the report said. "In the long run, counties may see even greater savings of public money with this initial investment in youth, as detention funds are instead spent on rehabilitative programs that prevent juvenile crime, reduce the number of youth in detention and improve their chances for finishing school, landing a job and becoming productive residents who contribute to their communities." In 2003, five New Jersey counties -- Atlantic, Camden, Essex, Monmouth and Hudson -- joined the national JDAI effort.<br><br> Since then five more -- Mercer, Union, Bergen, Burlington and Ocean -- have become JDAI counties as well. Somerset recently signed on and Passaic is expected to this year. Counties that participate in JDAI try to ensure that only those youth who pose the greatest risk to public safety are detained.<br><br> Others are directed to alternatives, such as treatment, counseling and educational services within the community. Categories: Crime/Courts , News Comments Footer