Expedited Case Processing

Modifications of juvenile court procedures accelerate the movement of delinquency cases, streamline case processing and reduce unnecessary delay. Case processing reforms are introduced to expedite the flow of cases through the system. These changes reduce length of stay in custody, expand the availability of non-secure program slots and ensure that interventions with youth are timely and appropriate.

 Tools & Resources


 ​​ JDAI Fundamentals Training


Best Practices

"​Speedy Trial" Rules

Every state (and many localities) has rules, either statutory or court mandated, regarding how much time should or may elapse between key events in the processing of a delinquency case. In their best iterations, these case processing expectations establish how long the system has to accomplish certain tasks, as well as the consequences for failing to meet those timeframes. Youth in detention, as well as youth in detention alternative programs, should be handled more quickly than youth who are at liberty. Most statutes and court rules reflect this prioritization for detained cases, but it is rare for states to explicitly codify that cases of youth in alternative-to-detention programs should be treated as if they are in custody. 

And while court scheduling and adjournment practices may not appear likely areas for demographically disparate treatment, such differences are nonetheless possible. For this reason, disaggregating length of stay and other related case processing data by demographic variables can help to uncover unintended disparities.

Weekly Detention and Daily Case Reviews

Weekly detention reviews are a formal mechanism to routinely review detained cases, to identify changes in status that might lead to release, to ensure timely follow-through, to minimize the likelihood that cases “fall through the cracks”, and to identify specific causes of delay. In many jurisdictions, detention reviews are conducted weekly by groups of stakeholders to eliminate delays in specific types of cases; often, these case reviews are organized and led by a case expediter (see below). Detention reviews lead to expedited release and also establish a culture in which “every bed day counts”. Daily case reviews allow a court to move individual cases expeditiously from initiation to conclusion with a series of appearances that accomplish their purpose and move the process to its next stage, while taking into consideration the individual treatment needs of the juvenile and the security concerns of the community.

Early Screening/Assignments

Practices by the prosecution and defense can lead to expedited case processing. Early screening by the prosecutor provides for more appropriate charging and promotes accuracy in scoring the risk assessment instrument. Early assignment of defense representation lends itself to improving the quality of the representation because if allows more time to review the case, interview the youth, make early arguments about probable cause and investigate detention alternatives​​


A common strategy to accelerate release from detention that is employed in many JDAI sites is the designation of a staff person to serve as “expeditor”. Case expeditors identify pre- and post-adjudication cases that can be safely released and then take the necessary steps to secure that release as quickly as possible. Case expeditors use the risk assessment instrument, local data and objective criteria to identify cases appropriate for release; collaborate with system, community and family stakeholders to develop release plans; have strong working relationships with court and other key stakeholders to secure the necessary authorizations; and draw upon a wide array of community and system resources to ensure that release plans can be executed successfully.​
JDAI Helpdesk at the Pretrial Justice Institute
305 Main Street, Suite 200
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Tel: 240-477-7152 | E-mail: jdaihelpdesk@pretrial.org