In 2006, the Department of Youth Services of Massachusetts was  selected to participate in an initiative supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, known as the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI). The overarching goal of JDAI is to reduce the Commonwealth’s reliance on secure pre-trial detention while at the same time strengthening the juvenile justice system and seeking systemic reform in areas as needed.  

During a statewide downward trend in delinquency and following the principals of JDAI, Massachusetts has seen a reduction in the admissions to detention by 54% between 2007 and 2014 and a 52% reduction in beds in secure detention centers during that same time period. 

Bar Chart. Figures for arraignments and detentions show that in 2007, arraignments were at 13,753 with 4,345 detentions. By 2012, this number had decreased to 5,828 arraignments and 1,990 detentions.

Line chart showing that beginning in 2007, the average daily population reached a peak of 253 but decreased to 125 by the third quarter of 2013.

While Massachusetts began as a pilot in two counties, the initiative went to state-wide scale in 2011.  At that time the Governance Committee was established to support a move to bring the progress found in the JDAI initiative to the entire state.  

Massachusetts is now a system-wide reform state.  This work of detention reform is done with many collaborators across the juvenile justice system. The following links provide information on JDAI Massachusetts.  

JDAI Structure in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is a state-wide JDAI reform jurisdiction.  All of the work of JDAI is done under the Governance Committee which provides support and oversight to all JDAI subcommittees.  Massachusetts does not have a strong county-government, as many executive branch agencies are state-wide themselves.  In addition, the juvenile court, and the probation department are fully integrated across the Commonwealth. Nevertheless, six counties have active local JDAI steering committees meeting mostly on a monthly basis.

These counties tend to have the largest population of juveniles and therefore have the largest dockets of delinquency filing. In addition, to support the work across the state, the Governance Committee has established numerous Statewide subcommittees to look at issues common across the initiative.

Explore the links below to learn more about the structure of the JDAI in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Juvenile Justice System

Understand the process of what occurs at the point of arrest and the various systems involved by clicking on: The Massachusetts Juvenile Justice process pdf format of The Massachusetts Juvenile Justice process

The Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) in Massachusetts works to ensure that “the right youth, is in the right place, for the right reasons.”

This information is provided by the Massachusetts Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative.