Deal launches juvenile justice committee

July 29, 2015

Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Criminal Justice Reform Council today announced the formation of the State Steering Committee for the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). The committee, which will consist of juvenile court judges and individuals from relevant state organizations, will work to expand this reform effort to counties throughout Georgia.

“Georgia leads the nation in meaningful justice reforms,” said Deal. “We rely on evidence while embracing innovations, and this latest move continues that pattern.”

A national initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, JDAI works on a county-by-county basis to encourage appropriate community support for low-risk juvenile offenders to enhance public safety, help misguided youth and conserve taxpayer dollars. According to the foundation, communities participating in JDAI have lowered the number of youth in detention by 44 percent.

Clayton County adopted the initiative in 2003, ultimately resulting in an 80 percent decrease in its average daily detention population: less than 1 percent of the county’s youth felony offenders that benefit from detention alternatives are re-arrested for a felony charge. The initial Georgia expansion will take place in multiple counties, which will be determined through a collaboration with the Casey Foundation.

“As Clayton County proves, Georgia communities can use JDAI to keep our youth out of detention and in the running for a better life,” said Deal.

The steering committee will operate under the authority of the Criminal Justice Reform Council and will work with communities to provide the council’s members with recommendations for potential policy and legislative changes. Suggested improvements will aim to reduce the volume of young people requiring detention. They will work to redirect low-risk troubled youth into effective alternatives to traditional detainment and modify other juvenile justice practices to achieve better outcomes.

In partnership with Georgia, the Casey Foundation will also fund a state coordinator position to assist with the effort. This individual will work under the Council of Juvenile Court Judges of Georgia and the JDAI Steering Committee to help formulate a plan to take the JDAI model to additional sites; assist local groups with the development and implementation of viable alternatives to detention; and provide the council and steering committee with progress updates, periodic reports and other support.

Counties spanning 40 states are participating in this initiative. Members of the steering committee will attend a JDAI Intersite Conference in Phoenix this September to gain further insight into the process.

JDAI Steering Committee Membership:
Judge Steven Teske, chairman and Criminal Justice Reform Council member
Judge Brad Boyd, Fulton County Juvenile Court chief
Judge John Sumner, president of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges
Judge Leroy Burke, III, presiding Chatham County Juvenile Court judge
Eric John, executive director of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges
Avery Niles, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice
Joe Hood, division director of public safety for the Office of Planning and Budget
Carey Miller, policy adviser for the Governor’s Office
Colin Slay, chief of staff for Clayton County Juvenile Court
Adolphus Graves, chief probation officer for Fulton County Juvenile Court
Joe Vignati, deputy commissioner for community services for the Department of Juvenile Justice