JDAI appears to be paying off in Steuben County

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The Herald Republican on 12/3/2019 by Mike Marturello

ANGOLA — The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative is paying dividends in Steuben County, its coordinator reported to the Steuben County Board of Commissioners on Monday.

While speaking before the commissioners, JDAI Coordinator Kathy Armstrong presented statistics showing three categories regarding juvenile detention in Steuben County.

The bottom line: There is a downward trend in the three main metrics she provided commissioners.

Perhaps most significant were reductions in the number of children sent to detention and the obvious cost of detention.

“I attribute this to everybody coming together and changing the perspective in the community on what we do,” Armstrong said.

The program focuses on reallocation of public resources from mass incarceration toward investment in youth, families and communities.

“This reinvestment provides an opportunity for lasting improvement to public safety,” said information provided by the Indiana Department of Corrections’ Division of Youth Services.

The goal of the program is to use more community based programs with the hope of keeping juveniles out of structured detention programs that often lead to juveniles becoming better delinquents.

Armstrong’s data said from juvenile referrals in the Steuben County court systems — through the Steuben Circuit Court — went from 159 in 2016 to 78 in the third quarter of 2019, though there was a spike in 2018.