MBA On Demand

Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI)

This presentation will describe the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI), a public safety partnership focusing on reducing the unnecessary and harmful use of secure detention for low-risk juveniles. Our mission is to establish a more effective and efficient detention system in Massachusetts. We accomplish our mission primarily through data-driven partnerships between the court, juvenile justice agencies and other community stakeholders. We work to identity alternatives to secure detention, with the goal of achieving better outcomes for our youth and our communities. 

Each year in Massachusetts, there are thousands of youth who are held on bail, often in a secure detention facility, while they await trial or further court action. These youth have been charged with, but not convicted of the offense for which they are being held. Disproportionally, they tend to be youth of color. A small percentage of these youth need to be held because they are unlikely to return to court to face trial or have been deemed dangerous by the court. However, the vast majority of youth in detention have been charged with non-violent or low-level offenses. These youth are not a threat to public safety and could be held in an alternative setting

Youth who are locked up for low-level offenses are separated from their families, schools and communities. While in a secure detention setting, they are exposed to harmful influences, including interactions with youth who have committed more serious offenses.  As the latest research tells us, a stay in detention increases the likelihood a youth will re-offend or have future involvement in the criminal justice system.

Prior to JDAI there were nearly 5000 children held on bail each year in hardware-secure detention facilities; 75% of these youth were admitted on low-level offenses.  In 2013, there were less than 2000 children admitted to bail, a remarkable 54% decrease. Moreover, last year one third of all of these children were successfully held in non-secure or community-based settings.

Challenges remain. There are significant variations in practice depending on the court a child is involved in. Youth of color are still disproportionately represented in the system as a whole.  However, by developing our system into one which responds to each youth in a manner appropriate to their risk, JDAI gives youth involved in the Massachusetts juvenile justice system a better chance at developing into healthy, productive adults.  Tune in to this webcast to learn more about this important initiative.


Lynsey Heffernan, Esq.
Mass. Department of Children and Families, Worcester

Erica E. Cushna, Esq.
CPCS-Boston, Boston

Sponsoring Sections:

Juvenile & Child Welfare Law Section

MBA On Demand System Requirements
Click here to review On Demand system requirements and an On Demand product demonstration. Click here for information on how to access your purchased On Demand programs.

If you have questions regarding On Demand products or how to use the software, contact Senior Programs Manager Marc A. D'Antonio, Esq. at (617) 338-0646 or [email mdantonio].

Click here to view an MBA On Demand Orientation Video.

On Demand On Demand
Presentation Date: March 21, 2014
Runtime: 1:00.00
NOTE: This is an On Demand product.
With registration for this product you can conveniently watch an archived MBA program from the comfort of your home or office, at a time that suits your schedule. When you register, you will receive a permanent link to the program in addition to the program's ePublication. Your My Resources profile will also contain permanent links to both products if you wish you review the program's archived presentation. The archived version of this program will not be available until after the date of the on-site program.

MBA On Demand System Requirements
Click here to review On Demand system requirements and an On Demand product demonstration.
With registration you will receive the following resource package: Permanent links to program's e-publication and On Demand presentation are located in your My Resources profile.
The MBA only offers Certificates of Attendance to individuals who attend education programs in person. Certificates are not available for participation in recorded On Demand and Real-time Webcasts.
This On Demand presentation is free.

Related Products

ePublication: Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI)
©2017 Massachusetts Bar Association