Arizona Working To Improve Juvenile Detention System

By Claire Caulfield
Published: Monday, October 5, 2015 - 7:40pm
Updated: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - 8:52am

Locking up young offenders while they await their court appearance increases the odds they will be arrested again, according to officials with the state of Arizona and a 2013 report.

Jennifer Ortiz, a juvenile detention coordinator with the state, said any sort of detention increases the probability of further offenses, regardless of the original crime. Ortiz was part of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) conference in late September.

“JDAI is really a data-driven process. We’re using objective admission criteria to ensure consistent detention decisions," said Ortiz. "So what that means is we want to make sure we’re putting the right kids in custody, and the right kids are not in custody."

Ortiz said ensuring the detention process is free of racial bias is an important step forward. Arizona is also reviewing a juvenile’s criminal history and school attendance before mandating time in a detention center.

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