The following alternatives to detention help eliminate inappropriate or unnecessary use of secure detention for our community’s youth.
Evening reporting center
The evening reporting center (ERC) is a highly accountable service directing probation clients toward compliance with court orders and probation requirements. Focusing on youth who are at risk for out-of-home placement, the ERC offers programs and services designed to build youth’s assets and provide them with structured, positive activities throughout the evening hours, during which most juvenile crime occurs. Services include:
- Problem-solving activities
- Personal development exercises
- Strengths-based practices to address delinquent behavior
These services are provided by an ERC supervisor, an ERC specialist, an on-site probation officer, a driver/security staff person and assorted volunteer facilitators.
The first ERC opened in Shiloh Temple International Ministries in January 2010 to serve Hennepin County’s Minneapolis probation region. A second ERC was opened in contract with The Link in 2011 to serve the northwest suburban probation region
Community coaches facilitate youth appearances at court hearings to reduce the issuance of detainable bench warrants. The three community-based providers can support up to 25 youth each. Youth are referred to this alternative to detention by:
- The Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) — when the youth is released on the risk assessment instrument (RAI)
- Juvenile court — when the youth fails to appear for an initial court hearing
- Probation officers — to help locate a youth for court or to complete ordered Sentencing to Service (STS) hours
In addition, community coaches may assist youth by providing referrals to community-based agencies, and providing additional support and monitoring to ensure youth do not reoffend between court appearances.
First-time offending, low-risk youth brought to the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) on probable-cause misdemeanor domestic assault offenses may be transferred to The Bridge for Youth or St. Joseph’s Home for Children to await their detention hearing. This alternative helps support Hennepin County’s goal of using the JDC only for those youth who present a danger to the community or who are at risk of failing to appear for their court date.
Juvenile court outreach worker
The Juvenile court outreach worker (JCOW) is a juvenile probation staff person who supports youth arraignment hearing appearances. To prevent additional appearance failures and reduce the number of issued warrants, the JCOW is available to:
- Notify the child and parents of rescheduled hearing dates
- Address barriers to compliance that may exist
- Provide information regarding the court process
- Respond to questions and concerns the youth or family may have about the court process
- Coordinate transportation to court hearings, when necessary
- Provide support during the court hearing
- Facilitate parental involvement in detention and disposition matters, as requested
The probation response grid
Created by probation stakeholders, the probation response grid (DOC) was created to document and organize expected responses to a youth’s probation violation based on the seriousness of the offense, as well as his or her risk level. It is designed with the expectation that the least-restrictive response is used in each situation. Incentives may also be included to reward positive behavior.
Risk assessment instrument
The risk assessment instrument (RAI) is an objective tool used to determine if a youth arrested on a new charge that meets the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) detention criteria should be held or released prior to his or her detention hearing. On arrival at the JDC, staff members administer the RAI to determine if the youth will be held in the detention center or be released with a pending court date.
The RAI measures a number of risk factors that could impact a youth’s likelihood to reoffend or fail to appear for court if he or she were released.
Risk factors assessed in the RAI include:
- Prior and pending adjudications
- Prior appearance failures
- School or work attendance
- Residence outside of the seven-county metro area
Depending on the final score, youth are released to a parent/guardian, referred to an alternative to detention or detained in the JDC. Requests for decision overrides are handled by JDC supervisors.
An RAI is also used in courtroom detention hearings to help determine whether detention prior to additional court proceedings is necessary.