higher than reductions reported for the overall population for these same indicators (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2011).
Although the JDAI report represents a real advance in the foundation’s effort to assess the impact of its path-breaking national reform effort, the evaluation has significant weaknesses. A great deal of attention is given to “reductions,” but comparison periods are not clearly defined. Sites have different baseline years and have been allowed to determine whether the 12-month period is a calendar or a fiscal year (FY) as long as they remain consistent. The comparison of youth of color with all youth rather than with white youth reflects an inaccurate picture of the size of the effect. In a place like Chicago or the District of Columbia, youth of color may constitute half (or much more) of the total, so the comparison may miss the contrast between youth of color and white youth. Finally, the report does not deal with other changes in the jurisdictions that might account for changes in detention or commitment—for example, whether the overall use of commitment has dropped, regardless of whether the youth had pretrial detention, and whether new laws have been enacted that increase the transfer of youth to adult court, making it more likely that a youth who is eventually incarcerated will not be handled through the juvenile system and therefore will not be reflected in the statistics that JDAI uses. The committee also notes that, in the absence of raw data, it was difficult to understand the calculations.23
Despite these shortcomings, what makes the report particularly noteworthy is the honesty with which it describes the data deficiencies. These include underreported or inaccurate data regarding failure-to-appear rates, preadjudication rearrest rates, out-of-home placements, and commitments and out-of home placement of youth of color. More than two-thirds of all local JDAI sites failed to report baseline and recent-period data for the failure-to-appear and rearrest indicators—the greatest single failing in the annual results reports. Defining admissions, out-of-home placements, and general indicators of public safety also proved to be problematic. Although the report explains some of the deficiencies, it concedes the importance of addressing these problems if the sites “are to credibly claim that their detention reforms do not undermine the integrity of the court process or jeopardize public safety” (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2011, p. 5).
Future of JDAI. Since 2003, JDAI has been increasingly focused on state-level replication efforts. The Annie E. Casey Foundation has increasingly partnered with states enlisting cohorts of counties and then expanding as other counties come on board once they see progress being made. In 2009,
23 E-mail from William Feyerherm, vice-provost for research and dean of graduate studies, Portland State University, September 8, 2011.