Alternatives to Detention

Alternatives to Detention (ATDs) are programs that increase supervision on a youth rather than placing the youth in a secure facility while awaiting their court hearings (prejudicated youth).  Youth in these programs are allowed to remain in the community with the ATD intervention to help prevent them from committing new law violations and make sure that the youth appear in court.  ATDs include electronic monitor, tracking services, day and evening reporting centers and shelter care.

Electronic monitor (EM) programs use electronic devices, usually worn on the youth’s ankle, that monitors their location and movement centered around their home, allowing them to go to school, jobs, activities, etc as approved by the personal monitoring their movement. 

Tracking services assigns a program staff (tracker) to work with the youth to monitor the youth’s behavior and help the youth make it to appointments related to their case (court, drug tests, school, etc).  Youth can have a tracker and an EM, but can also have one program without the other.

Day and Evening Reporting Centers are programs held at a specific location that provide intensive supervision for youth during the school hours for youth not in school and/or the afterschool hours.  Programs may offer only day reporting, evening reporting, or both day and evening reporting for youth.  Reporting centers use structured actives and classes that focus on needs and/or skills such as anger management, job skills, independent living, etc.  Reporting centers do not provide treatment services.  The goal of the reporting center is that youth will return to court with no new law violations.

Shelter Care is a non-secure residential care program for youth in need of short-term placement.  Youth at the shelters require more supervision than can be provided in the community-based level of care (EM, Tracker, and Reporting Centers).  Youth at the shelter participate in daily schedules and structured activities.



Update January 2019 - Electronic Monitor, Tracker Services, Shelter Care, Reporting Center

This video looks at the three new tabs added to ATD screens (Electronic Monitor, Tracker Services, Shelter Care, and Reporting Centers) to capture court hearings and attendance, objectives of the programs, and current charges.

JCMS Training - Electronic Monitoring: Monitors, Scores, UA Screens, and Incentives

This video reviews data entry in the tabs on the Electronic Monitor screens in JCMS for monitors, scores, UA screens, and incentives.

JCMS Training - Reporting Center: Contacts, Classes, Scores, UA Screens, and Incentives

This video reviews data entry in the tabs on the Reporting Centers screens in JCMS for contacts, classes, scores, UA screens, and incentives.

JCMS Training - Shelter: Scores, UA Screens, and Incentives

This video reviews data entry in the tabs on the Shelter screens in JCMS for scores, UA screens, and incentives.

JCMS Training - Tracking Services: Contacts, Scores, UA Screens, and Incentives

This video reviews data entry in the tabs on the Tracking Services screens in JCMS for contacts, scores, UA screens, and incentives.

ATD case transitions after court hearing

This video goes over the steps to track a youth on an  ATD program when the goal of getting the youth to court without a new law violation is successful, and at the court hearing the judge continues the services.  This changes the referral source, the intended outcome, and the length of the service, and should be tracked on different tabs in the JCMS.

Update July 2018 - Tracker and Reporting Center Contacts

This video reviews an update to the Tracker and Reporting Center screens added to the JCMS in July 2018. This update created a begin date and end date field for capturing contact with youth and families to allow for programs to aggregate contact information rather than entering each individual contact.


Quarterly Reporting

4th Quarter 2015-16 Reporting Walkthrough

Use the link above to access step-by-step reporting instructions for Alternative to Detention Programs. Eventually, all programs funded by community-based aid will enter data into the JCMS to submit quarterly reports. When JCMS screens are ready for a program, those programs will be notified and they can begin entering data into the screens. Until that point, programs are required to submit completed Excel spreadsheets. For FY 2015/16, programs should download and use the spreadsheet listed below. A spreadsheet will need to be submitted for each program.

Once you have entered data into these spreadsheets you can NOT email them or share them electronically. Please listen to the training recording for your spreadsheet for additional information on completing and securely submitting spreadsheets.

JCMS Screen Definitions

Electronic Monitoring Programs JCMS User Guide

Reporting Center JCMS User Guide

Shelter Care JCMS User Guide

Tracking Services JCMS User Guide


Research Abstracts

Juvenile Evening Reporting Centers: A Research Note on an Emerging Practice (Garland, et al 2014)

Placing youth in detention centers has the potential to generate negative educational and behavioral consequences. Recognizing this problem, scholars and juvenile justice policy makers and practitioners have searched for viable alternatives during the past two decades. One alternative promoted by the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative is the evening reporting center (ERC). Although promoted as a promising practice, little is known about the ERC’s operational design and effectiveness. This research note explores the ERC through site visits at seven locations across the United States. Data from the site visits are integrated with evidence-based literature to provide suggestions for examining the need for the ERC, creating a model design, and evaluating the program. PDF

Diverting Multi-Problem Youth from Juvenile Justice: Investigating the Importance of Community Influence on Placement and Recidivism (Hamilton, et al 2007)

In the U.S., diversion has increasingly become one of the most utilized alternatives to detention of delinquent youth. Programs providing diversion can vary greatly. Variations in program designmake it difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of program outcomes. Utilizing hierarchical linearmodeling, this study examines variations in outcome for ten program sites of the New York State MH/JJ Diversion Project. Program and youth predictors were evaluated on two outcomes: out-of- community placement and recidivism. At the individual level, significant mental health and substance abuse problems, age, prior placements, and use of wraparound funds were predictive of youth placements, while significant substance abuse problems were predictive of recidivism. Program variations were found to have a significant impact on youth outcomes. Specifically, sites providing direct (or ‘‘in house’’) care had significantly reduced rates of placement. Study results and implications for future research are discussed. Copyright 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. PDF

JDAI Pathway 4- Consider the Alternatives: Planning and Implementing Detention Alternatives

This report presents the experiences of and lessons learned by the JDAI sites regarding the development of effective alternatives to secure detention. Each site expanded or enhanced its program repertoire as part of its detention system reform efforts. Some sites built an entirely new continuum; others filled key programmatic gaps. Taken together, their experiences help to clarify ways to plan, implement, and monitor effective alternatives to detention. PDF

Is Getting Tough With Low-Risk Kids a Good Idea? The Effect of Failure to Appear Detention Stays on Juvenile Recidivism (Ogle & Turanovic, 2016)

Although the juvenile justice system has adopted many alternatives to detention, the practice of detaining youth for failing to appear in court remains common. Despite its widespread use, it is unclear whether this form of detainment is harmful to juvenile offenders—especially to those who pose no credible threat to public safety. Accordingly, using data from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (FDJJ) and propensity score matching, we assess whether failure to appear (FTA) detention increases recidivism for low-risk youth. The results indicate that FTA detention increases official recidivism, technical recidivism, and re-detainment, and suggest that alternate policies be considered for low-risk juvenile offenders. PDF