The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (“JDAI”), a collaboration between the Erie County Department of Social Services (“ECDSS”), Erie County Family Court and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, is convening a Community Conversation on Juvenile Justice at the Delavan-Grider Community Center on Wednesday, June 7, 2017. This forum will provide an opportunity for residents to discuss challenges and experiences with the juvenile justice system.
“The Erie County Department of Social Services is proud to participate in the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative to reduce the number of Erie County youth who are inappropriately or unnecessarily detained,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Al Dirschberger. “In the last five years, we have seen a 49% reduction in the use of juvenile detention. The Community Forum on Juvenile Justice provides a vital opportunity to hear from our neighbors about how we can further improve in this area.”
The Community Conversation on Juvenile Justice will consist of two sessions: one from 4:00 – 5:30 PM, and a second from 6:00 – 7:30 PM. The attendees at each session will be split up into small facilitator-led groups for discussion. Within each group, attendees will discuss both positive and negative experiences with the juvenile justice system and make suggestions for potential improvements. Participants are invited to attend one session or both and the material covered in each session will be the same.
Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative Coordinator John Ryan said, “We recognize that neighborhood residents and community representatives are the experts in their own lives and community. Improvements in the juvenile justice system require that residents help guide reform and recommend solutions. This necessitates a commitment to joint planning, shared responsibility, and mutual accountability, which we are building through this community conversation.”
“Family Court personnel recognize the vital importance of engaging our community members in dialogue around opportunities for improvement in the juvenile justice system. We look forward to the Community Forum on Juvenile Justice as a chance to explore Erie County residents’ experiences with the juvenile justice system,” said Family Court Judge Brenda M. Freedman.
A wide range of voices are sought for the meeting, and anyone who wishes to improve the juvenile justice system is encouraged to attend. Many representatives from the juvenile justice system will be in attendance, including Erie County Social Services, Family Court, Probation, and the Buffalo Police Department. Those who have previously been through the juvenile justice system, those whose loved ones have been through the juvenile justice system, or those with experience working with juvenile justice system-involved youth, are especially encouraged to attend.