The Bridge

Kathryn Sinback, Juvenile Court

Project Description

The Davidson County Juvenile Court currently receives approximately 3,300 children in the Juvenile Detention Center annually who are not legally eligible to be detained in a secure detention facility because they were arrested for status offenses such as runaway, curfew violations, and unruly offenses, or for low-level delinquent offenses. Because we do not currently have an alternative method to process children who were lawfully arrested but not detainable, these children typically end up staying in the secure Intake area of the Juvenile Detention facility for up to 24 hours. During this 24 hour period, the only service provided to the child in most instances is locating their parent or guardian and contacting the Department of Children’s Services if the parent or guardian is unwilling or unable to pick the child up from detention. Many of these children have experienced significant trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences, and are in need of immediate assessment, care, and intervention. Research shows that detaining children unnecessarily in a secure detention facility can increase the risk of future delinquency and recidivism . See “The Dangers of Detention: The Impact of Incarcerating Youth in Detention and other Secure Facilities,” Justice Policy Institute Report (2006), attached.