Ramsey County, Minnesota
Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)

Creating Better Outcomes for Children and Community in Ramsey County
25 West 7th Street | Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102
Telephone: 651-266-5307 | AskJDAI@co.ramsey.mn.us

JDAI Logo Ramsey County, Minnesota

Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative

Creating Better Outcomes for Children and Community in Ramsey County

JDAI Core Strategies


JDAI sites pursue eight interrelated core strategies to accomplish objectives. Ramsey County added a ninth strategy to adhere to its focus on eliminating racial and ethnic disparities within the juvenile justice system:

  • Collaboration between the major juvenile justice agencies, other governmental entities, and community organizations. Without collaboration, even well designed reforms are likely to flounder or be subverted. A formal structure to undertake joint planning and policymaking is essential.

  • Use of accurate data, both to diagnose the system's problems and proclivities and to assess the impact of various reforms, is critical. Without hard facts, myths and anecdotes will rule the system and preclude agreement on key aspects of policy and practice.

  • Picutre of man with childObjective admissions criteria and instruments must be developed to replace subjective decision making at all points where choices to place children in secure custody are made.

  • New or enhanced non-secure alternatives to detention must be implemented in order to increase the options available for arrested youth and those youth on probation that are referred to detention for violation of conditions. These programs must be careful to target only youth who would otherwise be locked up. Whenever possible, they should be based in those neighborhoods where detention cases are concentrated and operated by local organizations.

  • Case processing reforms must be introduced to expedite the flow of cases through the system. These changes reduce lengths of stay in custody, expand the availability of non-secure program slots, and ensure that interventions with youth are timely and appropriate.

  • JDAI/DMC meetingSpecial detention cases - youth in custody as a result of probation violations, writs and warrants, as well as those awaiting placement - must be re-examined and new practices implemented to minimize their presence in the secure facility.

  • Reducing racial disparities requires specific strategies (in addition to those listed above) aimed at eliminating bias and ensuring a level playing field for youth of color. Change in this arena also requires persistent, determined leadership because the sensitive nature of these discussions and changes frequently provoke defensiveness and avoidance.

  • Improving conditions of confinement is most likely to occur when facilities are routinely inspected by knowledgeable individuals applying rigorous protocols and ambitious standards. Absent of this kind of consistent scrutiny, conditions in secure facilities are unlikely to improve and often will deteriorate.

  • Community engagement acknowledges the importance of having the family and communities of youth most affected by the juvenile justice system working in partnership with juvenile justice system staff and community based organizations throughout the reform process if measurable sustainable reductions in disparities are to occur. This engagement may include parents, guardians, other family members, community leaders, victims and youth.

More Information


Publications / Multimedia


JDAI Core Strategy Overview


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Ramsey County’s Communication Committee created an overview of the Core Strategy Implementation (PDF) to provide basic information about why the county adopted JDAI and what work groups were established.