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Hennepin County reports detentions down

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Authorities report they've cut the number of young people detained in the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center by 33 percent over three years - and juvenile crime also dropped.

      The changes are goals of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative that started in 2005.

      According to officials of the initiative, the center's average daily population in 2005 was 95 youths, but in 2008 it was 64 and that trend is continuing. They say the aim is to hold young people accountable but in a more cost-effective way.

      The tools include doing a risk assessment to determine whether a juvenile needs to be in secure detention and a calling program that uses volunteers to phone juveniles and parents to remind them of court dates. Failing to appear in court had been the reason for many previous detentions.

      Juvenile crime showed a drop of 17 percent in 2008 from 2007.

             (Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)