Juvenile Justice Commission

Prevention and Early Intervention

Prevention and Early Intervention

The Commission’s Office of Local Programs and Services brings together several offices that support the development and enhancement of a local continuum of care which complements the programs offered by the Commission.

Based on the philosophy that communities have a unique understanding of their local youth populations, the Commission administers several funding initiatives and state-level services that encourage the development and enhancement of a continuum of community-based services and sanctions, from prevention programs to sentencing options for at-risk, court-involved and delinquent youth.

The Office is responsible for three funding areas including the State/Community Partnership Grant Program, federal funding through the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Program, and Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Program. The Office also includes the Grant Management Unit, Court Liaisons, and the Juvenile Detention Monitoring Unit.

Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)

In 2004, the Annie E. Casey Foundation selected New Jersey to be among the first states to replicate the nationally recognized Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative – JDAI. JDAI was developed in response to national trends reflecting a drastic increase in the use of secure detention for juveniles despite decreases in juvenile arrests, and the resulting overcrowding of youth detention centers nationwide. In New Jersey, between 1993 and 2002 juvenile arrests for “index” offenses (i.e., the most serious offenses) decreased by 44.8 percent and overall juvenile arrests decreased by 24.7 percent. However, during the same 10-year period average daily population in detention increased by 37.7 percent. These changes led to serious overcrowding in New Jersey’s county-operated detention facilities. In 1996, New Jersey’s detention facilities were operating at 166 percent of approved capacity.

JDAI provides a framework of strategies that help reduce the inappropriate use of secure juvenile detention, while maintaining public safety and court appearance rates. As detailed in the JDAI 2019 Annual Data Report, comparing the year prior to JDAI implementation in each site to the current data across sites, the average daily population of juvenile detention centers decreased by 72.5 percent, resulting in 8147 fewer youth admitted to detention annually – and tens of thousands of fewer youth since the implementation of JDAI. Youth of color have accounted for almost 90% of this drop. Adjusting for changing demographics in the general youth population, the overrepresentation of youth of color in detention has decreased by more than 7 percentage points since the implementation of JDAI in New Jersey. The number of girls in detention has decreased by almost 64 percent across the 21 counties resulting in 64 fewer girls in secure detention on any given day. In addition to reducing detention rates, JDAI has created a sustainable process for communication, relationship building and creative policy and practice changes for system involved youth and families. In collaboration with courts, communities, service providers, education, families and more JDAI has successfully created a system’s change impacting all youth. A major focus of the work is reducing the disparate use of detention for minority youth.

Juvenile detention was designed to be the temporary placement of a youth accused of a delinquent act, while awaiting the final outcome of his or her case in court. The purpose of detention is to house youths who, by virtue of their alleged offenses or documented prior histories, pose a serious public safety or flight risk. The goal of JDAI as a systems-change initiative is to create more effective and efficient processes surrounding the use of detention. A primary goal of JDAI is to make sure that secure detention is used for serious and chronic youthful offenders, and that effective alternatives are available for other youth who can be safely supervised in the community while awaiting final court disposition. JDAI also works to redirect resources toward successful reform strategies and to improve conditions of confinement in detention facilities for those youth who require this most secure level of supervision.

Significant cost-savings have been realized as the result of JDAI in New Jersey. The excess space created by population reductions has allowed several counties to close their detention centers and house high-risk youth in other counties’ facilities. These agreements resulted in millions of dollars of cost savings for the sending counties and the ability to create more community-based alternatives for youth.

The JJC is the lead agency for JDAI in New Jersey, providing the management and staffing infrastructure integral to New Jersey’s success as a JDAI site. The JDAI has earned the broad support of government at both the state and local level, exemplifying the best of interagency and intergovernmental collaboration. The Attorney General’s Office and the New Jersey Judiciary have been instrumental in developing and supporting JDAI. At the state level, the New Jersey Council on Juvenile Justice System Improvement, whose members are jointly appointed by the JJC Executive Director and the Administrative Director of the New Jersey Courts, oversees JDAI and considers statewide policy and practice reforms. At the local level, County Councils on Juvenile Justice System Improvement are directly responsible for implementing local reform strategies.

The results achieved through these JDAI partnerships have brought New Jersey national recognition. While nationally JDAI is operational in more than 125 local jurisdictions spanning 30 states, New Jersey is the only site to be designated a national model for state-wide detention reform by the Casey Foundation. This designation was bestowed upon NJ in late 2008 as a result of the impressive outcomes New Jersey has achieved since JDAI inception. New Jersey receives funding from the Casey Foundation to support JDAI, and to specifically conduct two-day working sessions with delegations from other states interested in replicating New Jersey’s JDAI success. To date, delegations from eighteen states have participated in New Jersey’s JDAI Model Site Program.

Youth Services Commissions

The development and enhancement of a local community-based continuum is achieved through a cooperative effort between the state and its 21 counties through county youth services commissions. The county youth services commissions were established to examine the individual and unique needs of youth in their communities and to develop programs and sentencing options for their youth.

Experience and research has demonstrated the value of responding to the problems of youth within their own communities. Local development of correctional programs for appropriate youth can be more effective and less costly than placement of youth in State administered programs.

State/Community Partnership

The State/Community Partnership Program provides fiscal incentives for county and local governments to establish prevention, intervention and aftercare services that address the root causes of delinquency. Each year, the Commission awards approximately $10 million in such block grants. More than 4,500 young people participated in one or more of the 224 partnership programs available throughout the state in 1999.

Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG)

Juvenile Accountability Block Grants (JABG) afford both county and municipal level governments the opportunity to hold juveniles increasingly accountable for delinquent behaviors through Juvenile Crime Enforcement Coalitions (JCECs) and the allocation of funding across priority purpose areas. Additionally, the State maintains a share of JABG funding for Information Technology improvements and the provision of substance abuse assessment services.

Program Development & Prevention Services Office

The primary responsibility of the Program Development & Prevention Services Office (PD&PS) is to oversee federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) funded programs totaling $3.5 million and to staff the state level JJDP Committee, chaired by Jean M. Krauss. In addition, the Office is responsible for state level compliance monitoring of the core requirements of the JJDP Act, notably that youthful offenders not have sight or sound contact with adult offenders, that juvenile non-offenders or status offenders (runaways, truants, etc.) not be kept in a secure setting and that delinquent juveniles not be detained in any adult jail or lockup.

The Office also ensures that the Juvenile Justice Commission develops a plan to address the overrepresentation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system. Currently, the JJC is in the assessment phase of this process.

Federal Grants

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Annually, the State of New Jersey, through the Department of Law & Public Safety – Juvenile Justice Commission, receives a Title IIB Formula Grant, a Title IIE Challenge Grant, a Title V Delinquency Prevention Grant and a Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grant (JAIBG) award from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in Washington, DC.

67% of the Title IIB Formula Grant must be spent on community-based projects while the remaining 33% may be spent on state level initiatives in accordance with the program areas listed in the State’s Three Year Comprehensive Plan. Currently, the JJC allocates Title IIB Funding for compliance monitoring, disproportionate minority confinement, serious crime, innovative local law enforcement programs and systems improvements.

Title IIE Challenge Grant funding allows the State broad discretion in targeting spending for special populations or projects. Recent grants have been awarded to institute a detention reform project and to develop a gender specific model program.

Title V Risk Focused Delinquency Prevention Program Grant provides local communities with funding to develop primary prevention programs based upon identified problem behaviors and priority risk factors.

Along with the State Community Partnership and the State Incentive Programs, the grants administered through this office provide for a community-based continuum of sanctions and services for juvenile offenders and those at-risk of offending.

Court Liaisons

The Juvenile Justice Commission Court Liaisons act as the bridge between the Family Court and the Juvenile Justice Commission. In this role, Court Liaisons are responsible for diverting juveniles from the Juvenile Justice Commission to community-based programs when deemed appropriate by the courts. When local diversion is not appropriate, Court Liaisons will seek placement in a JJC residential group center, the New Jersey Training School or a contracted bed.

Court Liaisons are involved in all aspects of the juvenile justice system. Additional responsibilities include: coordinating juvenile justice system issues with counties, representing the JJC on County Youth Services Commissions, and supporting the JJC’s continuum of care not only through coordinating initial placement, but also by working with aftercare to ensure that youth returning to their communities are properly supported.

Grants Management Office

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The Commission’s Grants Management Office is responsible for seeking grant funds that address the needs of the juveniles under the Commission’s jurisdiction and support the Commission’s mission. The Grants Management Office researches funding sources and reviews grant announcements to identify those that coincide with the needs of the Commission not supported by the state budget. Funds are sought via proposal/budget development and submission for a variety of initiatives inclusive of staff training, education programs, workforce development programs, parenting programs, mentoring programs, substance abuse education and residential treatment, restorative justice projects, transitional programs, aftercare step-up programs, mental health programs, sex offender programs, bullet proof vests, drug testing and capital projects. The Grants Management Office in conjunction with the Education, Operations and Fiscal Offices, monitors program implementation /operations and expenditures.

Juvenile Detention and Compliance Monitoring Unit

The Juvenile Detention Compliance Monitoring Unit conducts programmatic and physical facility inspections of county-operated detention facilities to ensure compliance with the Manual of Standards for Juvenile Detention Facilities (N.J.A.C. 13:92). In addition, the Unit approves all juvenile detention construction projects, including new and renovation projects. The Unit also responds to problems and investigates major incidents occurring within juvenile detention facilities to ensure all areas of concern are addressed. Finally, the Unit provides technical assistance to juvenile detention facility staff and administrators regarding physical plant, security, suicide and operation issues.

Manual of Standards for Juvenile Detention Facilities
Statistical Reports
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