The number of juvenile arrests, including violations of probation, dropped another eight percent in 2013-2014, resulting in a five year decline of 36 percent in juvenile delinquency, according to a report released by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). The report marks the lowest juvenile arrest level in over 30 years and shows a decline in overall delinquency throughout most of Florida including a drop in felony offenses by three percent, a decrease in misdemeanor offenses by 11 percent and a decline of “other” offenses, which includes violations of probation, by 10 percent. The number of school-based arrests is also down by 14 percent.
“Making Florida the best state in the nation to get a job and raise a family is our mission – and that starts with making sure we have safe communities for our families and job creators,” said Gov. Rick Scott. “I would like to thank everyone at the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and our hard working law enforcement community for their continued work.”
“This decrease in arrests over nearly every juvenile offense category, including serious offenses, shows that DJJ’s reform initiatives are working,” said Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Christina Daly. “Our department made a commitment to transforming our state’s juvenile justice system to provide the right services to Florida’s youth while remaining focused on increasing public safety. While we are proud of the work we’ve done, this is only the beginning of what our agency, along with our many stakeholders, can accomplish.”
The DJJ began a multi-year reform initiative two years ago with the implementation of the “Roadmap to System Excellence,” which outlines the agency’s strategic plan to allocate its resources to the most effective programs, services, and treatments at the most impactful points along the juvenile justice continuum. Among the strategic measures, DJJ has worked to realign existing resources to community-based interventions as well as increase the availability of transitional services such as vocational programming, employment, education, family support, transitional housing and transportation.
Florida has the nation’s largest, centrally organized juvenile justice agency, providing prevention, probation, detention (short-term secure housing) and residential (long-term secure housing) services for at-risk and delinquent youth in every community across the state. Reform efforts including the implementation of DJJ’s Civil Citation Initiative, The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) and the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project have placed the department at the forefront of juvenile justice models and contributed greatly to the decrease in juvenile crime.
“We are dedicated to a comprehensive strategy – working with these children to provide not only the treatment they need but the tools they need to stay on a successful path once they are no longer under our care,” said Secretary Daly. “We will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement and in the community to provide the services necessary to ensure all Florida youth are provided the opportunity to be successful.”