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Annie E. Casey Foundation


Many years ago, Jim Casey, a founder and long-time CEO of the United Parcel Service, observed that his least prepared and least effective employees were those unfortunate individuals who, for various reasons, had spent much of their youth in institutions or who had been passed through multiple foster care placements. When his success in business enabled him and his siblings to establish a philanthropy (named in honor of their mother, Annie E. Casey), Mr. Casey focused his charitable work on improving the circumstances of disadvantaged children, in particular by increasing their chances of being raised in stable, nurturing family settings. His insight about what kids need to become healthy, productive citizens helps to explain the Casey Foundation’s historical commitment to juvenile justice reform. Over the past two decades, we have organized and funded a series of projects aimed at safely minimizing populations in juvenile correctional facilities through fairer, better informed system policies and practices and the use of effective community-based alternatives.

In December 1992, the Annie E. Casey Foundation launched a multi-year, multi-site project known as the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). JDAI’s purpose was straightforward: to demonstrate that jurisdictions can establish more effective and efficient systems to accomplish the purposes of juvenile detention. The initiative was inspired by work that we had previously funded in Broward County, Florida, where an extremely crowded, dangerous, and costly detention operation had been radically transformed. Broward County’s experience demonstrated that interagency collaboration and data-driven policies and programs could reduce the numbers of kids behind bars without sacrificing public safety or court appearance rates.