AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Aiken will soon be home to a new alternative for juvenile offenders.

A grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation makes South Carolina the 40th state in the country to launch the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. The South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice serves as the Lead Agency that will work to improve outcomes for young people in the state.

Leaders in the South Carolina DJJ chose Charleston and Aiken to pilot the program. 

While accountability will remain a priority, they tell us their goal is to provide positive alternatives to going to jail- especially for young people with minor offenses. 

“Sometimes you get into a little trouble,” said Joy Haynes, Aiken County’s JDAI Specialist. “Nobody’s perfect. Nobody wants you to be perfect. But we want you to understand that, if you are in trouble and there’s a way for us to assist you in the community that you’re in…we want to be that help.”

Haynes tells us that, as a mother, this program is important to her.

“What would I want for my children who have gotten in trouble and are nervous and scared and didn’t know what to do, know where to turn?” said Haynes. “I would want an agency like DJJ to offer an alternative for my child.”

State coordinator Stacey Bryant tells us the program is expected to be running state-wide in three to four years.

She says she’s excited for the many services that will soon be offered to youth.

“Because there is a lot of trauma involved when you remove a child from the home,” said Bryant. “And, so, where some cases you need that- majority of the cases we don’t. And, so, we want to keep them- as Joy said- within the community.”

Bryant says they have several partners who are joining the effort to safely and effectively keep kids in the community.

“The community partners have been amazing,” said Bryant. “The support that we’re getting with both nonprofits, also other state agencies…It’s going to be a true partnership in this area.”

“There’s a lot that people can get into, but we want them to know that the alternative is something special,” said Haynes. 

The JDAI pilot program in Aiken is expected to go live in late September. For more information about the JDAI or to get in contact with a specialist, visit or call 803-543-1216.