Skip to Main Content

Initiatives

Human Sex Trafficking Screening

DJS is a national leader in screening, identifying and supporting juvenile victims of human sex trafficking. Secretary Abed was recently honored by the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force for DJS’s outstanding efforts to identify and coordinate support for human trafficking victims.

In 2012, DJS, in partnership with the Turnaround program, commenced screening for human sex trafficking victims at Thomas J.S. Waxter Children’s Center in Laurel, which is a secure juvenile detention facility serving females. The Turnaround program is a private program that counsels victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. Through training and screening instruments provided to the staff at Waxter, 24 girls were identified as victims of human sex trafficking in 2012. Individualized treatment plans were developed for each victim with Turnaround providing counseling and support. In December 2012, DJS expanded the use of the screening tool to the Alfred D. Noyes facility in Rockville, which is a co-ed facility.

DJS continues to expand the human sex trafficking screening tool to all DJS facilities and community offices. The Turnaround program and other service providers will continue to be a valuable resource providing support to those youth who are identified as victims. For more information on the Turnaround program, visit www.Turnaroundinc.org.

Under-13

The Under-13 Initiative is a school-based intervention for youth ages 12 years and younger that are brought to DJS's intake offices. It is a collaborative project between DJS, local DSS and the local school system. The Under-13 Initiative is based on the premise that if a youth is being arrested at such a young age that there are usually problems at home. So, the focus is on both the youth and his/her family.

The goal is to provide the youth and family the opportunity to receive services and support so the youth can avoid going deeper into the juvenile justice system. The meetings are coordinated by the local school system and are held in a local school.

The Under-13 Initiative officially rolled out in Baltimore City in May 2013. This program is now expanding to Prince George's County.

2013 Statewide Activity for Youth Under 13 (as seen on the DJS Date Resource Guide FY 2013).

Juvenile Detention Alternatives

The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative or JDAI is a national program that is coordinated by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. JDAI is a best practice model that seeks to eliminate the inappropriate and unnecessary use of detention and reduce the failures of juveniles to appear in court. DJS is using JDAI in Baltimore City and is now underway in Prince George’s County. This successful program began more than 10 years ago and continues to expand throughout the country.

In 1992, as a step towards meeting its vision, the Annie E. Casey Foundation established the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. Using detention as an entry point strategy, its primary target is overall juvenile justice system improvement. Beginning with a handful of jurisdictions, the JDAI core strategies were proven to reduce the unnecessary and inappropriate secure detention, reduce costs, increase system fairness and improve the juvenile justice system overall without compromising public safety. Today, reform efforts are under way in over 150 jurisdictions in 32 states and the District of Columbia, and JDAI is now operational in those places responsible for almost 75 percent of the country's detained population.

The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) is designed to address the efficiency and effectiveness of juvenile detention across the United States. JDAI demonstrates that communities can improve their detention systems without sacrificing public safety. The goals of JDAI are to:

  • Decrease the number of youth unnecessarily or inappropriately detained;
  • Reduce the number of youth who fail to appear in court or re-offend pending adjudication;
  • Redirect public funds towards effective juvenile justice processes and public safety strategies;
  • Reduce the disproportionate minority confinement and contact of the juvenile justice system; and,
  • Improve the juvenile justice system overall.

JDAI is a process, not a conventional program, which means JDAI helps restructure policy and practice to create system improvements that reach far beyond detention alone. JDAI sites have demonstrated safe reductions in the number of youth detained through a set of interrelated strategies which include:

  1. Collaboration among juvenile justice agencies, community organizations and other government agencies;
  2. The use of data in making policy and case-level decisions;
  3. Objective instruments to guide detention decisions;
  4. Operation of a continuum of non-secure detention alternatives;
  5. Case processing efficiencies to reduce time between arrest and case dis-position; improvement of conditions of confinement;
  6. Safe reductions of special populations (e.g. violations of probation, warrants and cases awaiting placement);
  7. Racial/ethnic fairness in policy and case-level decision-making; and, improving conditions of confinement.

For more information about the JDAI program, visit www.aecf.org.

Violence Prevention Initiative

The Department of Juvenile Services continues to focus on at-risk youth through the Violence Prevention Initiative (VPI), a data-driven tool to identify and appropriately supervise youth at risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of violent crime. VPI integrates intensive supervision and treatment services to prevent juvenile homicides, non-fatal shootings and victimization among those youth who are identified as high-risk.

DJS initiated VPI supervision in Baltimore City and subsequently expanded the program statewide. Considerable evidence supports the effectiveness of VPI: The number of juvenile homicides decreased 46 % statewide from 2007 to 2011; in Baltimore City non-fatal shootings of juveniles decreased 70% in the same period – the lowest levels in 30 years.

VPI incorporates intensive surveillance (for example: very frequent contact with youth including during evenings and weekends, and electronic monitoring) and enhanced service delivery (for example: drug treatment and employment training). To ensure accountability of VPI youth, DJS applies immediate and appropriate sanctions if VPI youth are not compliant with supervision. DJS adopted this approach to ensure the earliest possible intervention in any continued delinquency or violation of conditions of probation by VPI youth, thereby minimizing risk for behaviors that could result in crimes of violence.

Services are targeted to address risks and needs that correlate with delinquent behavior including negative peer association, antisocial attitudes, insufficient adult supervision, gang involvement, neighborhood safety, substance abuse, education, and impulsivity/anger management problems.

Through the VPI, Operation Safe Kids, the use of GPS monitoring, and continued collaboration with law enforcement, the DJS works every day to protect the citizens - including the children - of our State.