Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative 10th Anniversary Marked Through Proclamation Ceremony

Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative 10th Anniversary Marked Through Proclamation Ceremony

Monday, June 21, 2021

Urging all Nebraskans – particularly those within the legal community – to recognize the significant contributions that the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) has made in Nebraska, Chief Justice Mike Heavican signed a Judicial Branch proclamation honoring its 10th anniversary. 

The proclamation signing ceremony commemorating the 10th Anniversary of Nebraska’s JDAI program was held Monday, June 21, 2021, in the Court of Appeals Courtroom. The event included JDAI co-chairs, State Court Administrator Corey Steel, and State Senator Tony Vargas, who spoke to the ongoing need for juvenile justice system reform.

Vargas discussed the roots of the JDAI program, which was fostered in 1992 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, saying, “It has since grown to become the most widely replicated juvenile justice program and reform initiative in the United States, reaching youth in more than 300 local jurisdictions across 39 states and the District of Columbia.” Vargas continued, “At a national level and in Nebraska, the results report evidence that JDAI sites achieved significant reductions in juvenile detention. Now, while we are certainly here to celebrate the success, we must also acknowledge that there is more work to be done.”  

JDAI is a collaborative process, not a conventional program, meaning that JDAI is intended to guide efforts in restructuring policy and practice to create system improvements that reach beyond detention. The goals of JDAI are to:

· Decrease the number of youth unnecessarily or inappropriately detained;

· Reduce the number of youth who fail to appear in court or re-offend pending adjudication;

· Redirect public funds towards effective juvenile justice processes and public safety strategies;

· Reduce the disproportionate minority confinement and contact of the juvenile justice system; and

· Improve the juvenile justice system overall

Next to speak at the podium, Corey Steel noted the ongoing nature of JDAI, saying, “We are excited and dedicated to implementing the next phase of this initiative. Again, JDAI is not a project that is ever completed but a philosophy. We want to engrain and weave that philosophy in everything we do for better outcomes for youth in Nebraska.” He concluded by saying, “We celebrate the work that has been accomplished over the past ten years with JDAI in Nebraska and invite you to join us in taking that work into the future.” 

Steel thanked those who participated in the process, thanked Senator Vargas, and thanked the

Supreme Court for championing the initiative in the State of Nebraska.   

Douglas County hosted the first Nebraska JDAI program in 2011. Since that time, JDAI has expanded to Sarpy, Otoe, and Lancaster Counties. Hall County is exploring the possibility of becoming Nebraska’s fifth JDAI site. 

The live stream of the ceremony is available through the Judicial Branch archives:  Proclamation Signing Ceremony for Nebraska’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) 10th Anniversary  (Chief Justice Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Nebraska’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative on Vimeo)

Photo: (L to R) State Probation Administrator, Deb Minardi; State Senator Tony Vargas, State Court Administrator Corey Steel, Chief Justice Mike Heavican, Juvenile Probation Specialist Michele Lueders, Justice Stephanie Stacy, Justice Jeff Funke, Justice John Freudenberg.