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 Tools


Sites that engage the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) develop several evidenced-based best practice tools to ensure greater objectivity and effective responses. These tools include the risk assessment instrument (RAI), graduated response or sanctions grid, and community-based alternatives to detention (ATD). Ramsey County developed its tools through a collaborative process that involved representatives from the Juvenile Justice System, schools, and community-based agencies.



Risk Assessment Instrument (RAI)

The risk assessment instrument (RAI) (PDF) is used to evaluate public safety risk and failure to appear (in court) at the time of charging. Current offense, prior offense history, mitigating and aggravating considerations as well as demographic data comprise components of the RAI. Based on the risk score, a youth is either released to home with a court date, referred to an alternative to detention, or detained.


As an objective screening tool, the RAI reduces the unnecessary use of detention for low risk offending youth who do not require secure detention. “Ultimately, [the] risk assessment [instrument] helps ensure that we are holding kids for the right reason,” notes a Planning Specialist with Ramsey County Community Corrections.


Goals of the RAI

  • Determine risk to public safety
  • Determine risk for failure to appear at the next court hearing
  • Divert youth from more expensive forms of supervision where appropriate
  • Reduce disproportionate minority contact or confinement (DMC)
  • Encourage more consistent responses for youth referred to detention


Graduated Response Grid

Juvenile Probation uses the graduated response grid (PDF) to address behavior of youth consistently and with objectivity. The grid provides an array of choices for probation staff that correlates to a youth’s risk level and exhibited behavior.


Goals of the Response Grid

  • Protect public safety and hold youth accountable
  • Assist youth in changing their behavior
  • Yield comparable dispositional equity
  • Use the least restrictive interventions necessary to secure desired outcomes
  • Provide quick responses to violations that are fair, equitable and thorough
  • Encourage and respond to positive behavior of youth
  • Use effective case management strategies that encourage the use of resources that integrate the principles of evidence-based practice
  • Reduce the number of formal probation violations
  • Reduce the use of detention and disproportionate minority confinement
  • Expand resources to respond to misbehaviors
  • Contribute to a successful, collaborative approach to case management


Alternatives to Detention (ATD)

Ramsey County operates two types of alternatives to detention (ATD). The first are 36-Hour ATD’s. These alternatives are used with the RAI for youth who do not require detention. Youth are supervised until their court hearing which is scheduled within 36 hours of charging.


The second type of alternatives are Community-based ATD’s. These alternatives are administered in partnership with community-based organizations committed to promoting positive youth development. Arranged along a continuum of services designed to re-direct behaviors while holding youth accountable, Community-based ATD’s are reserved for youth who would otherwise be in detention or an other out-of-home placement facility. For example, the Community Coach alternative is designed to work with the youth and family on an individual basis while Evening Learning Centers operate after school hours and weekends when youth are most likely to engage in delinquent activities.


Goals of Alternatives to Detention

  • Ensure youth sees his / her full potential
  • Engage youth in pro-social activities
  • Preserve the family network
  • Provide the least restrictive setting
  • Prevent youth from re-offending
  • Ensure youth returns to court


An Opportunity


“Every time we interact with a young person, we have an opportunity. This new approach gives us an opportunity to use our interaction to best influence their lives in the future. We analyze not just what the juvenile has done. We look at the best way to get them moving on a positive trajectory.”

– Toni Carter
Ramsey County Commissioner


Developing Responses and Alternatives


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