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Elkhart County will get juvenile detention alternative

Elkhart County will get options later this year to keep juveniles out of the county's detention center, according to an announcement from the state Friday.

Posted on Jan. 6, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Jan. 6, 2012 at 2:20 p.m.

GOSHEN — Elkhart County will be home to one of eight “Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative” sites across the state by the end of this year, according to the state.

The first site has operated since 2006 in Marion County, and Lake, Porter, Tippecanoe and Johnson counties will become part of it shortly, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute announced today.

Howard and Clark counties will join Elkhart County later this year in the program, which aims to divert low-risk juveniles from detention facilities.

“Deciding who should be detained, and for how long, is a very difficult decision that can have significant consequences for our children,” said Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David in today’s announcement. “JDAI helps everyone involved make better decisions. The goal is simple — detain only those children that absolutely need to be detained,” David said.

Magistrate Gary Chavers of Marion County Juvenile Court said in the announcement, “JDAI is an evidence-based practice that protects public safety while improving outcomes for youth,” and said it retains local control while adding proven national strategies.

Marion County has reduced the juvenile detention population by 50 percent, according to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

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