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Douglas County Commissioners: Number of detained youth drops, thanks to national program

Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative has been in effect for 10 years.
Updated: Jun. 22, 2021 at 2:56 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Douglas County Board of Commissioners says a nationwide effort over the last decade aimed at keeping juvenile offenders out of detention is working.

The commissioners attribute the result to a partnership with a national initiative, saying the average daily number of youths housed in the Douglas County Youth Center dropped from 129 in 2010 to 73 in 2020, according to a Tuesday release. The report also states that the percentage of juveniles detained for technical violations decreased from 61% in 2010 to 39% in 2020.

The board said it recognized the national Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative at its weekly meeting Tuesday. JDAI is described as a network “connected through a free and open online community that offers advice from a variety of voices, credible resources, and training on demand.” That community, comprised of lawmakers, judges, prosecutors, and other public safety colleagues, allows youths to return to their communities “without compromising public safety.”

But ethnic and racial imbalances remain. Although the overall number of detained juveniles in Douglas County has dropped, the number of minority youths being detained is rising, in line with the national trend, the board said. The county will continue its efforts to reduce the disparity through “intentionally and targeted intervention,” according to the release.

“JDAI is designed to provide a path for youth to become productive adults. After decades of innovation and replication, JDAI is one of the nation’s most effective, influential, and widespread juvenile justice system reform initiatives,” the board said in its release.

Nebraska has three local JDAI sites: Douglas County, Sarpy County, and Otoe County, according to the Nebraska Judicial Branch website.

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