Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)

Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)


In 2010, the Administrative Office of Courts and Probation adopted the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), in partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, as a reform strategy to impact decision making, promote positive outcomes for youth, and safely reduce the unnecessary use of detention. Nebraska first launched the initiative in Douglas County and has since expanded to Sarpy County, Otoe County, Lancaster County and Hall County.

Historically, detention alternatives have been limited throughout Nebraska, especially in rural areas. Through the philosophy of JDAI and implementation of LB561, local probation districts in collaboration with communities and providers, are working towards developing a purposeful continuum of alternatives to detention statewide.

What is JDAI?

JDAI is a nationally recognized, evidence-based detention reform and juvenile justice system improvement initiative launched in 1992 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation​. JDAI have been implemented in approximately 300 counties, spanning 40 states, three tribes and the District of Columbia.  JDAI is based on eight core strategies that address the primary reasons why youth are unnecessarily detained.  The mission of JDAI is to improve public safety and long-term outcomes for youth by:

  • Safely reducing the number of youth in secure detention
  • Reducing racial and ethnic disparities
  • Achieving systematic reform of juvenile justice practices
  • Redirecting resources to more efficient and effective reform strategies
  • Improving conditions in secure detention facilities
  • Developing appropriate and effective alternatives to secure detention

JDAI Core Strategies

JDAI is based on inter­con­nect­ed core strate­gies and approach­es to pro­mote more equi­table, effi­cient and effec­tive sys­tems that help meet the needs of young peo­ple and their fam­i­lies. Sites core strate­gies include:

  • pro­mot­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion between juve­nile court offi­cials, pro­ba­tion agen­cies, pros­e­cu­tors, defense attor­neys, schools, com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions and advocates;
  • using rig­or­ous data col­lec­tion and analy­sis to guide deci­sion making;
  • uti­liz­ing objec­tive admis­sions cri­te­ria and screen­ing instru­ments to replace sub­jec­tive deci­sion-mak­ing processes;
  • imple­ment­ing new or expand­ed com­mu­ni­ty-based alter­na­tives to locked facil­i­ties — such as day and evening report­ing cen­ters, home con­fine­ment and shel­ter care;
  • insti­tut­ing case pro­cess­ing reforms to expe­dite the flow of cas­es through the system;
  • reduc­ing the num­ber of youth detained for pro­ba­tion rule vio­la­tions or fail­ing to appear in court, and the num­ber held in deten­tion await­ing trans­fer to a res­i­den­tial facility;
  • improv­ing racial and eth­nic equi­ty by exam­in­ing data to iden­ti­fy poli­cies and prac­tices that may dis­ad­van­tage youth of col­or at var­i­ous stages of the process, and pur­su­ing strate­gies to ensure a more lev­el play­ing field for youth regard­less of race or eth­nic­i­ty; and
  • mon­i­tor­ing and improv­ing con­di­tions of con­fine­ment in facilities.


Information for Stakeholders

Visit the National JDAI Website (note: free account creation required)

Nebraska Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) 2019 Progress Report


For additional information contact:

Carra Thompson
Juvenile Intake & Detention Alternatives Specialist
521 South 14th Street, Suite 500
Lincoln, NE 68508
Cell: (402) 405-6818