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Albany County kicks off Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative

Program seeks better outcomes for at-risk youths, save taxpayers money

LaSalle School Executive Director Bill Wolff speaks during Albany County’s kick off meeting of its Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative program on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

LaSalle School Executive Director Bill Wolff speaks during Albany County’s kick off meeting of its Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative program on Wednesday, Jan. 22. Photo by John Purcell.

— There was a stark difference when looking at the change across races, with white youth detention dropping by 55 percent as black youths were reduced by 2 percent. There was a 12 percent decline for black youths in non-secure detention, but secure detention increased 14 percent, according to data provided by the Office of Children and Family Services Bureau of Research, Evaluation and Performance Analytics.

A secure detention facility is locked down, and non-secure facility does not require a juvenile to be locked down or confined, but they are monitored, such as with a group home.

Maney said the case processing has already been streamlined, the length of detentions reduced and a rapid assessment was developed for children to meet with psychologists.

“We have a lot more to do,” Maney said. “The Casey Foundation is going to give us the challenge and the opportunity to continue the good work that we are doing.”

LaSalle School Executive Director Bill Wolff said funds allocated to new preventive measures would have a long-term effect of saving the county money. The initiative also has existed for more than two decades and has been successful in other areas of the country, according to county officials.

Wolff said the “common value” between all of the partners involved in the local program has been the “improved wellbeing” of the community as a whole.

“I believe a significant component of really moving ahead … involves reaching a new level of relationships between our entities,” Wolff said. “We need to move from being characterized as primarily transactional to what might best be called transformational.”

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