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Newly-Formed Disproportionate Minority Contact Task Force Meets

Department of Juvenile Justice Volunteer Task Force to Address Fair Treatment for Minorities

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TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has created a statewide Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Task Force that will work toward ensuring equal and fair treatment for every youth, regardless of their racial or ethnic background. The DMC Task Force will have their first meeting Wednesday, February 11, 2009, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Wakulla Springs State Park. The public is invited to attend.

“We can no longer overlook the fact that one group within the juvenile justice population is overrepresented at an alarming rate at all stages of the juvenile justice continuum,” said DJJ Secretary Frank Peterman Jr. “Research here in Florida has shown this trend for years and if we do not immediately and effectively address the issue of DMC now, it will be more costly in the future.”

Disproportionate minority contact exists when the numbers of juveniles detained or confined in secure detention facilities, secure correctional facilities, jails and lockups who are members of minority groups exceeds the proportion such groups represent in the general population. Currently, although black youth make up only 22% of Florida’s youth population, they account for 43% of the delinquency referrals handled by DJJ, 50% of the cases admitted to secure detention and 53% of cases resulting in residential commitment. More alarming, black youth account for 55% of the cases transferred to adult court.

Secretary Peterman announced the formation of the task force, stating, “In line with the Department’s mission and vision, we have assembled this extraordinary group of public and private stakeholders to assist in addressing the issue of minority overrepresentation in Florida’s juvenile justice system. This effort will focus on solution-driven strategies.”

The DMC Task Force consists of a volunteer group of juvenile justice stakeholders. The task force will assist the DJJ with bringing awareness and crafting solutions to the issue of minority overrepresentation in the juvenile justice system.

The DMC Initiative is a key component of DJJ’s strategic plan. The Department is conducting DMC training and community forums throughout the Florida. Information on these events can be found on DJJ’s website at , or by contacting the DMC Coordinator at rhyna.jefferson@djj.state.fl.us.

DJJ’s mission is to increase public safety by reducing juvenile delinquency through effective prevention, intervention and treatment services that strengthen families and turn around the lives of troubled youth. Its vision is that the children and families of Florida will live in safe, nurturing communities that provide for their needs, recognize their strengths and support their success. For more information, please visit www.djj.state.fl.us.

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