Juvenile Detention Forum to Reform System

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Justice officials rally to discuss alternatives to juvenile detention. A forum by the Indiana Youth Institute was well attended by Vanderburgh County representatives of the juvenile system.     

The Juvenile detention alternatives initiative is currently in place in 11 other indiana counties. Now local juvenile court officials hope to bring the program to Vanderburgh County. 

“When he came back- he just was changed. I just think detention disenfranchises kids” says, Connie Whitman 

Whitman wishes a program like the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) existed when her son first got in trouble with the law.

 “It’s like Dr. Phil says, their brains aren’t fully developed. Kids do stupid things, yet their sentenced just like adults!”, she added

She says not all delinquents warrant the same punishment  and that the experience does not rehabilitate but, breaks down self esteem.

“It makes you feel different from your peers, it makes you feel ashamed!”

Whitman was at today’s forum to learn more how the courts are planning to implement the new initiative.

 “We’re hoping that it will help the community by giving kids other choices to be rehabilitated”, says Judge Neimier. 

Vanderburgh County Juvenile Court Judge says the courts have already adopted 15 other alternatives for delinquents. He also sees repeat offenders that are punished to the fullest extent of the law.

“The ones that never seem to learn their lesson and continue to do silly things; those are kids that end up in lockup”.

Michelle Tunnel with the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative says the courts can reduce reliance on detention and make better use of their resources.

“We’ve been able to see admissions to detention reduced “, she says.

Connie Whitman says, the few options her son had while in the system forever altered his future. An estimated 400,000 young people every year are admitted to detention facilities nation-wide. The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) program hopes to come to 11 more counties in indiana by 2014.

Report by Fadia Patterson


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