In 2000, Bernalillo County in New Mexico launched the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), a program created to reduce jail time for young offenders by utilizing alternatives to youth prisons such as home detention, electronic monitoring and reporting centers. But 17 years in, Bernalillo County is still admitting Hispanic youth at about double the rate of white youth, and black youth at nearly three times the rate, according to data from the county. Their 2016 annual report shows 86 percent of 11- to 17-year-olds booked and held are youth of color.
However, community members such as Albino Garcia, founder of La Plazita Institute of Albuquerque, a nonprofit that runs programs for teenagers who find themselves in trouble with the law, has worked on re-training the system as co-chair of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. He claims “the system” that has arrested and jailed young offenders cannot also be the place where youth find treatment and healing.