New Jersey taxpayers are saving about $16 million a year through a program called the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiatives, which moves the focus of juvenile crime cases from locking children up to returning them to their communities quickly and safely.
The program, which is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, operates nationally, but New Jersey has been designated as the national model. It emphasizes in-home detention, electronic monitoring, and other noninstitutional ways to supervise juvenile crime, including counseling and job training.
As a result, there are 400 fewer juveniles in detention on any given day, according to the report, which is an average of 60 percent fewer admissions to state detention centers than occurred in 2004, when the program was implemented. The number of juvenile arrests has also dropped by 33 percent during this period, and the reduction in serious offenses, defined as murder and rape, also dropped by 22 percent.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation report concludes that by the statistics youths should be treated differently than adults in all areas, and that the chances of putting youths on a productive path are improved tremendously when the issues that led to the delinquent behavior are addressed.