If your child is detained for violating the law in New Jersey today, there is good news. The old days, when many juveniles were simply placed in detention, with nonviolent offenders sharing facilities with violent youngsters, is mostly gone in New Jersey. Since 2004, when five New Jersey counties elected to participate in a national initiative that offered alternatives to juvenile detention, the number of minors experiencing lockup in New Jersey has decreased by 60 percent. Some counties, such as Camden, have had an 80% reduction in juvenile incarceration in the last eight years. Sixteen of New Jersey’s 21 counties now use this approach.

In a recent report by the nonprofit public policy and advocacy group Advocates For Children, researchers concluded that the new policy has saved the state of New Jersey approximately $16 million every year. In addition, the study found that those juveniles who are incarcerated or detained are:

  • More likely to be repeat offenders
  • More likely to perform poorly in school
  • Less likely to find gainful employment

Researchers also concluded that higher rates of juvenile incarceration did not increase public safety.

The system relies on law enforcement officials and prosecutors to determine whether juveniles have a likelihood to engage in violent behavior. Those minors are not eligible for the alternative programs. The alternatives used with non-violent offenders included tethers or in-home monitoring, as well as mandatory reporting, typically twice a day. Juveniles were also offered job training, as well as counseling and support to address any issues that led to criminal acts.


We offer a free initial consultation in all criminal matters. To set up a meeting, contact us online or call us at 732-702-0333 for an appointment. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.