Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative

The YLC is part of a national initiative spearheaded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that works to reduce inappropriate and unnecessary confinement in juvenile institutions, promote the development and use of community-based alternatives to incarceration and, where incarceration is appropriate, to ensure safe and humane conditions and confinement.


Since the 1990’s, the Youth Law Center has served as a technical assistance provider for JDAI — first inspecting detention facilities in the sites and later (with the Center for Children’s Law & Policy) developing a process for Detention Facility Self-Assessment:  A Practice Guide to Juvenile Detention Reform, with a comprehensive set of detention facility standards.  The standards have been used, not only by JDAI sites, but also as a resource for state standards and in legal challenges.


Recent Action

  • Serving as a resource for JDAI sites and Casey Foundation staff regarding conditions issues, and serving as a resource on conditions law for people in JDAI sites.
  • Conducting trainings in JDAI sites for assessment teams on the JDAI detention facility standards and teaching teams how to conduct assessments.
  • Providing debriefing after JDAI facility assessments, technical assistance as teams prepare and implement their assessments, and when conditions issues arise in the sites.
  • Writing a monograph on how to address conditions issues, published as Pathways to Juvenile Justice Reform: Improving Conditions of Confinement in Secure Juvenile Detention Centers
  • Focusing attention on how to improve particularly difficult practices, such as Moving Away from Hardware: The JDAI Standards on Fixed Restraint.
  • Using the JDAI detention facility standards in other advocacy to help strengthen facility standards, laws and oversight of juvenile facilities nationally.