FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 23, 2009

CONTACT: Sebastian D’Elia, 908-527-4419
Tina Casey, 908-527-4346


Union County Awarded Grant from NJ Juvenile Justice Commission


Elizabeth, NJ – Union County will establish an Evening Reporting Center for eligible youth with help from a $160,000 Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) Innovations grant from the state’s Juvenile Justice Commission.  The Reporting Center is an alternative to placement in the Juvenile Detention Center.

“For young people who do not pose a threat to public safety, supervision and compliance is a sound alternative to incarceration,” said Alexander Mirabella, Chairman of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

"Every juvenile that comes into contact with the juvenile justice system does not need to be placed in a secure detention center," said Veleria N. Lawson, Executive Director of the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission.  "I commend the efforts of Union County for taking steps, through JDAI, to develop options that allow juveniles to be assessed and placed appropriately.”

The Evening Reporting Center allows juvenile justice officials to use the least restrictive alternative necessary to maintain public safety and ensure court appearance.  It will accommodate juvenile offenders who have been returned to detention for violations of probation or failure to appear at a court hearing, not because they have committed new offenses.

Based on data collected from the Juvenile Detention Center, the decision to establish the Evening Reporting Center was a collaborative effort that involved Union County Superior Court judges and the Probation Division, the county’s Department of Human Services, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, the New Jersey JJC, and other state and community agencies serving youth.

Union County Superior Court Administrator Liz Domingo and Director of Human Services Frank Guzzo co-chair the Union County JDAI Local Steering Committee.  The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the juvenile justice system, has designated New Jersey as the first JDAI state model in the nation, and selected Union County as one of ten JDAI sites in New Jersey.