Examining How JDAI Sites Interact with Native Youth and Tribes

Examining How JDAI Sites Interact with Native Youth and Tribes

To reduce the reliance on juvenile incarceration of Native American youth and create a fairer, more effective juvenile justice system, Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) sites across the country must reevaluate their assumptions and processes, a report from the Association on American Indian Affairs argues. Funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and based on survey data and interviews, the report, Examining How JDAI Sites Interact with Native Youth and Tribes (33 pages, PDF), found two key areas of concern: a lack of reliable processes for identifying and collecting data on Native youth and a lack of outreach to tribes regarding justice-involved Native youth. According to the report, tribes often have their own culturally appropriate services, including alternatives to incarceration, and the Indian Child Welfare Act mandates that, at least within a child custody proceeding where a status offense is involved, the tribe must be notified and may have rights to transfer such a proceeding to the tribal court. In addition to highlighting emerging best practices at JDAI sites in Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, and Washington, the report argues that a process that enables states to work with tribes to expand the resources available for Native youth is needed and offers a number of recommendation, including the development of protocols for identifying Native youth and notifying tribal authorities and providing education and training for JDAI staff in partnership with tribes and tribal programs.