Since 2004, 16 counties in New Jersey (out of 21) have begun participating in the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, and have thus slashed detention rates by 60 percent.
The Initiative, active in several states across the country, works to provide alternatives to detention that still safely supervise youths prior to adjudication, but without unnecessarily relying on detention. And for good reason—detention costs usually tally over $200 per day, per youth, and actually can increase the risk for future reoffending in low- and medium-risk youth.
New Jersey began efforts to find a better way to handle youths prior to adjudication with just five counties in 2004. Those counties adopted electronic monitoring and reporting mandates, and focused on low-level, non-violent youths who do not pose sufficient public safety risk justifying pretrial secure detention.
The 60 percent drop in detentions is also significant news for taxpayers—it translates to $16 million in savings each fiscal year.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation analyzed the effects of that Initiative in just two Texas counties, and found fewer youths failing to appear for court dates, fewer youths being rearrested prior to court dates, and millions in savings for those counties as well.