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DJJ Disproportionate Minority Contact Training and Community Forum - St. Petersburg

Department of Juvenile Justice Engages Locals on Achieving Fair Treatment for Minorities

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St. Petersburg -- The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) will conduct Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Training on Friday, April 24, 2009, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and a Community Forum on Saturday, April 25, 2009, from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., at the Enoch Davis Center located at 1111 18th Ave., South, in St. Petersburg. The purpose of these events is to bring awareness to the issue of minority overrepresentation in Florida’s juvenile justice system, and Pinellas County in particular. All interested parties are encouraged to attend either event.

"We must educate stakeholders on this problem because we are losing generations of black males to the cycle of crime and incarceration," said DJJ Secretary Frank Peterman, Jr. "We must bring attention to this issue and find solutions, or we will continue to spend millions on youth in the juvenile justice system and millions more as they move into the adult correctional system."

The DMC Training session, scheduled for Friday, April 24, is targeted toward government stakeholders, including school officials, public defenders, state attorneys, police officers, judges, prevention services providers, and probation officers. The agenda includes an overview with DMC data from Pinellas County and presentations on cultural awareness, mental health and delinquency, and restorative justice.

The DMC Community Forum, scheduled for Saturday, April 25, is geared toward community residents -- such as parents, clergy, youth, and others -- who reside in or have a vested interest in communities with high numbers of minority juvenile delinquency referrals to DJJ. The agenda includes an overview with DMC data from Pinellas County and a presentation on restorative justice before opening the discussion to comments and questions from the attendees.

Disproportionate minority contact is a problem in communities where 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. According to the last recorded numbers from 2006-2007, although black youth make up only 17% of Pinellas County’s youth population, they account for 44% of the referrals to DJJ and 62% of cases resulting in residential commitment. More alarming, black youth account for 54% of the cases transferred to adult court.

DJJ is conducting DMC training and community forums in the seven Florida counties that have the highest number of juvenile arrest, which are: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Orange, and Duval. These counties alone account for nearly 50% of the state’s juvenile delinquency referrals to DJJ. Information on the DMC events can be found by contacting the DMC Coordinator at Rhyna.Jefferson@djj.state.fl.us.

The DMC Initiative is a key component of DJJ’s strategic plan. 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.

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