In 2011, Douglas County Probation partnered with the Annie E Casey Foundation ( to launch the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). JDAI has a goal of reducing juvenile detention populations and is rooted in eight core strategies. These strategies include: Collaboration, Data Driven Decisions, Objective Admissions, Alternatives to Detention (ATD), Case Processing, Special Detention cases, Racial and Ethnic Disparities, and Conditions of Confinement.

The Honorable Judge Vernon Daniels and Thomas Warren, CEO of the Urban League of Nebraska, are the Chairs of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative in Douglas County.

Under this initiative and considering the core strategies, the following sub-committees were developed in Douglas County to employ the JDAI principles:


Case Processing

Led by Joy Suder (attorney) and Matt Kahler (Douglas County Juvenile Court Judge), the focus of this sub-committee is to identify ways to streamline the process for youth and families while involved with the Juvenile Justice System. Their goals include: moving cases through the Juvenile Justice system in a more efficient manner, reducing the length of time a youth is in custody, and increasing the use of non-secure programs for youth.

Data (Shared with OYS)

The Data sub-committee chair is Commissioner Chris Rodgers (Douglas County Board of Commissioners). The data group is responsible for the collection and dissemination of appropriate information to assist in understanding “who” is being housed in the Douglas County Youth Center (DCYC) and to identify areas needing improvement. The data group is responsible for following performance throughout the system. The data group makes sure to analyze statistical information to determine “how” decisions affect race/ethnicity and gender in the Juvenile Justice system.

Alternatives to Detention (ATD)

Theresa Goaley (KVC) and Melissa Schaffer (Region 6) are responsible for leading this sub-committee. The ATD committee has developed a continuum of care in Douglas County and is responsible for expanding programs that allow Probation to work with youth in a non-secure setting (preferably in their homes). This group is also responsible for identifying needs for additional ATD’s in Douglas County based on the Data provided by the Data Committee. ATD also attempts to utilize and create new ATD’s, which are culturally competent to ensure successful service delivery.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities (Shared with OYS)

Co-chaired by LaDonna Jones-Dunlap (Urban League of Nebraska) and Rodney Evans (Metro Area Youth Services), the goal of this sub-committee is to assist in developing strategies that will reduce racial disparities at all points in the Juvenile Justice System. The RED committee reviews and analyzes data that is “drilled down” to show statistics specific to youth of color and makes recommendations for services/programs that are culturally competent and in the community where the youth/family resides.

Objective Admissions

Mary Visek (Juvenile Probation) and Kathy Belcastro-Gonzalez (OPD) are the co-chairs of the Objective Admissions sub-committee. Developing a Risk Assessment Instrument (RAI), that will accurately predict which youth are likely to fail to appear in court, or those likely to leave the jurisdiction of the court is imperative to safely reducing the instance of juveniles being detained. The RAI for Douglas County is being utilized at the point of Intake to ensure that youth can be safely returned to their home/community and receive appropriate services.


The JDAI chairs, sub-committee co-chairs and community stakeholders meet on a monthly basis to review progress of this Initiative. The information shared and data presented is analyzed by the Collaborative to assist in policy and practice development to ensure successful execution of the JDAI core strategies. Together, these stakeholders offer support and assist in developing a systematic approach to effect change and ensure that the culture of the Juvenile Justice system supports rehabilitation for youth/families.

JDAI Sub-Committee Collaborative:

Meetings are the 1st Thursday of every other month from 11:45 am to 1:15 pm in the Jesse Lowe Conference Room on the 3rd Floor of the Douglas County Civic Center. 2020 Dates: January 2, March 5, May 7, July 2, September 3, and November 5.

For more information regarding Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) in Douglas County, please contact:

Shelly Salter, JDAI Coordinator

(402) 672-1335  |