Wayne County Probation Department created a new intake center for children. Mike Emery/Palladium-Item
Wayne County Probation Department created a new intake center for children. Mike Emery/Palladium-Item
RICHMOND  — "We in?"

Kory George, who serves as Wayne County's chief probation officer, received that email Nov. 19, 2013, from Judge Darrin Dolehanty. It concerned a judicial announcement providing Wayne County the opportunity to join the state's Judicial Detention Alternatives Initiative program.

At that point, Wayne County's options were limited when handling children in situations that required law enforcement intervention. That led to detaining children in the Indiana Department of Correction who didn't truly belong there.

JDAI, which has existed nationwide for more than 25 years and since 2006 within Indiana, promotes the development of alternatives to secure detention that benefit the children and the community. Helping children learn and grow better serves the children long term and public safety, according to JDAI principles, rather than hardening those children inside detention facilities and fostering recidivism. The ultimate goal by improving children's experiences is to reduce adult crime.

George, Dolehanty and Wayne County were, in fact, in, joining JDAI in 2014. 

"We're holding them accountable in a way that's development-appropriate," said Nancy Wever, the state JDAI director, of the children in 32 participating counties.

The concept requires collaboration — and buy-in — from a variety of community resources and governmental departments. And the collaboration doesn't just remain within county borders as Wayne County works with counties such as Henry and Delaware to best utilize grant money and develop JDAI concepts.

Five years later, Wayne County's JDAI steering committee on March 13 shared its success and looked ahead to the next five years with more than 50 people among local and state stakeholders and collaborators. The county's probation department, which coordinates the JDAI initiative, also showed off its new juvenile intake areas and its renovations.

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