Major Initiatives, Reports & Facts

Major Initiatives, Reports and Fact Sheets for Milwaukee County’s Juvenile Justice System


Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)



In 1992, as a step towards meeting its vision, the Annie E. Casey Foundation established the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). Using detention as an entry point strategy, its primary target is overall juvenile​e justice system improvement.  Beginning with only a handful of jurisdictions, the J​DAI core strategies were developed and proven to reduce unnecessary and inappropriate secure detention, reduce costs, increase system fairness and improve the juvenile justice system overall without compromising public safety.  Today, reform efforts are under way in over 300 jurisdictions in 41 states and the District of Columbia, and JDAI is now operational in those places responsible for almost 75 percent of the country's detained population.



Milwaukee County became a JDAI site in 2012 along with Racine and Manitowoc Counties in Wisconsin.  The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) is designed to address the efficiency and effectiveness of juvenile detention across the United States. JDAI demonstrates that communities can improve their detention systems without sacrificing public safety. The goals of JDAI are to:

  • decrease the number of youth unnecessarily or inappropriately detained
  • reduce the number of youth who fail to appear in court or re-offend pending adjudication
  • redirect public funds towards effective juvenile justice processes and public safety strategies
  • reduce the disproportionate minority confinement and contact of the juvenile justice system
  • improve the juvenile justice system overall


Core Strategies

JDAI is a process, not a conventional program, which means JDAI helps restructure policy and practice to create system improvements that reach far beyond detention alone. JDAI sites have demonstrated safe reductions in the number of youth detained through a set of interrelated strategies which include:

  • Collaboration among juvenile justice agencies, community organizations and other government agencies to do the following:
  • The use of data in making policy and case-level decisions
  • Objective instruments to guide detention decisions
  • Operation of a continuum of non-secure detention alternatives
  • Case processing efficiencies to reduce time between arrest and case dis-position; improvement of conditions of confinement
  • Safe reductions of special populations (e.g. violations of probation, warrants and cases awaiting placement
  • Addressing Racial/ethnic fairness in policy and case-level decision-making
  • Improving conditions of confinement

By systematically addressing each of these areas, JDAI has proven that juvenile detention rates can be dramatically reduced without a corresponding increase in juvenile crime. 


Program Alternatives to Detention

New or enhanced non-secure alternatives to detention programs increase the options available for arrested youth by providing supervision, structure and accountability. Detention alternative programs target primarily those youth who would otherwise be detained, and typically include: electronic and community monitoring, day or evening reporting centers, and shelter beds for youth who cannot return home.  


Milwaukee County Delinquency and Court Services Division has a program continuum that both responds to the legal status of youth and ensures that they can also be safely supervised in the community. 


Pre-adjudicated programming is linked to a youth’s level of risk of Failure-to-Appear or re-arrest; post-adjudication programming is linked to the dispositional purposes the court seeks to accomplish (i.e., sanctions or rehabilitative goals).


Milwaukee County’s Alternatives to Detention programs respond to failure to comply with court orders by addressing the reasons why the youth is not complying, to include increasing contact, removing barriers to services, and case management activities instead of automatically terminating participation for noncompliance. The Department also ensures that services and programs are tailored to meet the cultural needs of juveniles by having an understanding of adolescent development and behavior. 


Click on link to see full list of DCSD programs/services: DCSD Programs and Services


If you want more details on how to implement JDAI in your county, view our Practice Guides and Pathways to Juvenile Detention Reform Series available at the JDAI helpdesk.  To read ore about the eight core strategies and other pertinent information, visit the JDAI helpdesk at


If you would like more information regarding JDAI in Milwaukee County, please contact Site Coordinator, Glenn Larson, at 414-257-7789 or at



Juvenile Justice Reform and Reinvestment Initiative (JJRRI)



Delinquency and Court Services Division (DCSD) was awarded the Juvenile Justice Reform and Reinvestment Initiative (JJRRI) demonstration grant 2013 through 2016.  Milwaukee County was unique in that it was only county awarded the grant due to the intricacies of our juvenile justice system; whereas the entire states of Iowa and Delaware were the remaining awardees.  The grant is a partnership between the Federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform – Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Georgetown University, Urban Institute and Vanderbilt University – Peabody Research Institute.



The purpose of this grant involves the ability to effectively assess the structure of programming and service-delivery within the juvenile justice system as it relates to the operational and decision-making processes used with youth involved in the juvenile justice system.   With the technical assistance provided by the grant, Milwaukee County is able to realign its dispositional process, realign the services provided to youth, consider reinvestment of resources based on service effectiveness and apply the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP) to services with our contracted providers in our network. 


Moreover, JJRRI's intent is to revolutionize the juvenile justice system of service delivery based on a culmination of research via a meta-analysis of over 700 studies by Dr. Mark Lipsey and colleagues of the Peabody Research Institute through a process of continuous collaboration, education and transparency.    DCSD has been able to establish, implement and sustain a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) process for Milwaukee County’s Juvenile Justice System and its network of providers that is research and data-driven, operates with evidence-informed practices and focuses on service effectiveness for the youth served.


If you want to view the Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) plan that resulted from this work in its entirety, please refer to the CQI tab on this site for additional information.


Reports and Fact Sheets


2012 Milwaukee County Juvenile Recidivism Report

2011 Community Justice Council Presentation

2011 Milwaukee County Detention Briefing

2009 Disproportionate Minority Contact County Project Evaluation

2009 WI DMC Coalition for Juvenile Justice Presentation

2010-2016 Referral Statistics

2010-2016 Detention Statistics


State of Wisconsin Division of Juvenile Corrections


2015 Annual Inspection: Milwaukee County Juvenile Detention Center

2009 Annual DJC Report

2008 Annual DJC Report

2007 Annual DJC Report




Presentation to the Common Council: Public Safety Committee - 7/11/16

Partnering on the Juvenile Justice Reform (White Paper) - 4/29/16

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