Indiana committee hears alternatives for juvenile justice

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Leaders of a pilot program that promotes alternatives to juvenile detention in eight Indiana counties want to take the idea statewide.

Supporters of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative told a legislative panel Monday that the program creates a level playing field between minorities and whites, in addition to making juvenile justice more efficient.

The program was one of several alternatives to locking up juveniles pushed by experts who testified before the Interim Study Committee on Corrections and the Criminal Code.

Experts said using alternatives such as intervening with social workers before troubled kids turn to crime would pay off both socially and economically.

For example, supporters say the alternative initiatives program costs about $24 a day per juvenile, compared with more than $100 for detention.