• Mon. Dec 5th, 2022

Dear Editor:

Hamilton County Juvenile Court (HCJC) is 30 years behind the rest of the country and, 12 years behind the rest of Ohio, in juvenile justice reforms.

HCJC has put politics before safety and humanity.

Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiatives (JDAI) is known to reduce detention, violence, racial disparity, and racial and ethnic profiling. It started in the United States 39 years ago

JDAI: Juvenile detention reforms in Broward County, Florida, inspired the creation of JDAI.

From 1987 to 1992, Florida’s Broward County combined interagency collaboration, research, objective screening procedures, non-secure detention alternatives and faster case processing, and reduced their detention population by 65%, without any sacrifice of public safety. It saved taxpayers more than $5 million.

JDAI started in Ohio in 2010 with juvenile courts from the five largest counties, but for Hamilton County, which is the third largest county.

From 2009-2011, juvenile courts from Cuyahoga County reduced detention by 27%, Franklin County reduced detention by 21%, Lucas County reduced detention by 28%, Montgomery County reduced detention by 36%, and Summit County reduced detention by 25%.

In 2020, juvenile courts in Montgomery County boasts reduced detention by 76% and Franklin County by 70%.

JDAI has eight core strategies: collaboration, use of accurate data, objective admissions criteria, alternatives to detention, case processing reforms, reducing the use of confinements for “special cases,” deliberate commitment to reducing racial disparities and improved conditions of confinement.

In 2020 HCJC joined the JDAI alliance and received $600,000 from Ohio Department of

Youth Services to implement JDAI. HCJC shows its lack of commitment by its snail-paced implementation and disinterest in following what successful counties have done to implement JDAI.     

However, HCJC showed their commitment to politics by quickly hiring former HCJC Judge John Williams, who lost the 2020 election, at a six-figure salary.

We need a change in HCJC leadership that is committed to reform, knows what reforms are needed and how to implement them.

We need HCJC judges that will put people and safety first.

Glenda A. Smith

Attorney at Law gasmithlaw.com.