Bart Lubow, the chief architect of the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), announced today that he will soon enter a “period of semi-retirement.”
Lubow, who has been with Casey for 22 years, informed colleagues in a letter that he would leave his position as director of the Juvenile Justice Strategy Group in “several months.”
Lubow will be relocating to Louisiana, he told The Chronicle in an interview today, and will remain with Casey as a senior consultant. He said his departure as director would not spell the end of JDAI or the foundation’s new work on lowering the use of post-adjudication incarceration.
“JDAI will remain one of Casey’s signature initiatives and its recent expansion without interruption,” Lubow wrote in the letter. “We anticipate no major changes in our support for sites and for organizations that promote this work.”
JDAI began in 1992, in the foundation’s old Greenwich, Conn. offices, with five project sites in Florida. The cultural backdrop was a get-tough philosophy toward young offenders that drove an increase in the use of pre-trial juvenile detention and transfers to the adult court system.
At its core, JDAI supports and assists juvenile justice systems interested in using risk assessment to determine the need for pre-trial detention, with allowances for judges to override the assessments based on case-by-case information.
Since there is a high correlation between pre- and post-trial confinement, the gambit of JDAI is to keep youths in communities when risk assessments suggest that it is safe to do so.
There are now 250 jurisdictions in 39 states involved in JDAI. The first national JDAI conference Lubow convened in 1992 yielded 40 attendees from the five sites. Just over 800 people attended the 2013 national conference, which has become the preeminent gathering of juvenile justice leaders in the nation.
The number of juvenile offenders held in secure detention or post-adjudication facilities dropped from 105,000 in 1997 to 71,000 in 2010, according to research published by Casey last year. Lubow told the Chronicle in a 2013 interview that JDAI and other reform strategies were instrumental in effecting the decline.
“There is also no doubt much of this has been intentional,” he said. “Whether it’s 200 JDAI sites decreasing use of detention, or California and Texas and Louisiana taking practical steps, it’s not just a function of changes in arrest patterns.”
John Kelly is the editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change