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DJJ Disproportionate Minority Contact Training and Community Forum - Orlando

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

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Orlando -- The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) will conduct a Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Training session, Friday, June 26, 2009, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Mel Martinez Room of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Complex, 2500 West Colonial Drive, in Orlando. DJJ will host a DMC Community Forum Saturday, June 27, 2009, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Worship Center Church, 8001 Silver Star Road, in Orlando. The purpose of these events is to bring awareness to the issue of minority overrepresentation in Florida’s juvenile justice system. Both informational events are free and open to the public.

“We must educate stakeholders on this problem because we are losing generations of black males to the cycle of crime and incarceration,” said 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 is targeted toward government stakeholders including school officials, public defenders, state attorneys, police officers, judges, prevention services providers, and probation officers. However, all members of the community are welcome to attend. The agenda includes an overview of DMC with data from Orange County and presentations on cultural awareness, mental health and delinquency, and restorative justice.

The DMC Community Forum, which is scheduled for Saturday, June 27th, is geared toward community members -- such as parents, clergy, youth, and others -- who reside or have a vested interest in communities with high numbers of juvenile delinquency referrals to DJJ. The agenda includes an overview of DMC with data from Orange County and a presentation on restorative justice before opening the discussion to comments and questions from the attendees.

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. According to the last recorded numbers from 2007-2008, although black youth make up only 25% of Orange County’s youth population, they account for 53% of the delinquency referrals handled by DJJ, 61% of the cases admitted to secure detention and 64% of cases resulting in residential commitment. More alarming, black youth account for 63% 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: Hillsborough, 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 on DJJ’s website or by contacting the DJJ DMC Coordinator Rhyna Jefferson at (850) 921-4172 or via email 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. For more information, please visit www.djj.state.fl.us.

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