County program reduces arrests

VENTURA, Calif. – The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative/Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities collaborative is keeping Ventura County youth out of incarceration and reducing arrest rates.

April is National County Government Month and the theme for this year is “Safe and Secure Counties.” Keeping Ventura County safe and secure requires extraordinary collaboration between many County and partner agencies and services including law enforcement; emergency management; the judicial system; public health; behavioral and mental health services; veteran’s services; workforce development and a variety of social and economic services. The JDAI/RED effort is a perfect example of this collaboration at work.

The program has five objectives for providing relevant services to young people in need:

  1. Eliminate inappropriate or unnecessary use of secure detention.
  2. Minimize failures to appear and the incidence of delinquent behavior.
  3. Redirect public finances to successful reform strategies.
  4. Improve conditions in secure detention facilities.
  5. Ensure fair and equitable treatment despite demographic characteristics.

The effort is intended to steer young people away from delinquent behavior and ensure they are treated in a fair, consistent manner. Using a Risk Assessment Instrument, and new opportunities like an Evening Reporting Center in Oxnard, the collaborative has resulted in a 52 percent reduction of youth in secure detention since 2009.

Between 2009 and 2015, youth arrests in the County dropped by 57 percent and Latino youth experienced a 56 percent decrease in arrests. Even greater results were found in the number of young people admitted into secure detention for probation violations. During the same time period, the County saw a 75 percent decrease in overall admissions for probation violations.

Collaboration and cooperation are keys to keeping Ventura County “Safe and Secure,” and the JDAI/RED effort is proof that it works.

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