For those who are dealing with juvenile crime issues, there is positive news. In New Jersey, the daily population in juvenile detention centers was 54.8 percent smaller in 2011 than what is was in 2010. Furthermore, 446 fewer children are held in secure detention for a juvenile crime per day as compared to the 2010 figures. These lowered numbers are in part due to the successful implementation of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative.

The juvenile detention alternatives program was started when lawmakers recognized that the juvenile detention centers were often overcrowded with children who were awaiting the final verdict in their criminal trials. The success of this program has justified the decision to forego building more facilities in order to lock up many children who may be found innocent.

Under this program, those juveniles who are accused of non-violent acts are allowed to be supervised by their community as they wait for their trials to be resolved. While alleged violent offenders who are deemed to be a risk to the general public are kept in custody, non-violent offenders are allowed to continue with the many activities that they have in their day-to-day life. This, in turn, has helped free up the overcrowded detention centers.

Often for children who are charged with a juvenile crime, it can be stressful as they prepare for trial. This is especially true when they are locked up in a juvenile detention center and kept away from all their family and loved ones. For this reason, the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative may be a smart and practical way to alleviate pressure the New Jersey juvenile detention system while simultaneously allowing for non-violent alleged offenders to spend time with their families.

In some cases, this program may be the best option for juveniles standing trial. Keeping this in mind, it’s best to assess all available legal options in order to make sure those accused are treated fairly and receive a just outcome when they are on trial.

Source: New Jersey Newsroom, “Detention of non-violent New Jersey juvenile delinquents saw over 50 percent decrease in 2011,” Tom Hester Sr., April 12, 2012