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DJJ Disproportionate Minority Contact Training and Community Forum

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

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Pensacola -- The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) will conduct a Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Community Forum on Tuesday, October 20, 2009, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Board Room of the Escambia County School District Office, located at 215 West Garden Street, in Pensacola. The purpose of the event is to bring awareness to the issue of minority overrepresentation in Florida’s juvenile justice system. This informational event is 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 Community Forum 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 Escambia County as well as statewide data figures, and a presentation on restorative justice before opening the discussion to comments and questions from the public.

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 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.

Data from Escambia County is consistent with the situation statewide. Although black children make up only 31% of the youth population in Escambia County, they account for 70% of the cases committed for delinquency.

The DMC Initiative is a key component of DJJ’s strategic plan. Earlier this year, DJJ conducted 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 on DJJ’s website at http://www.djj.state.fl.us/services/prevention/federal-grants/ disproportionate-minority-contact-(dmc), or by contacting the DJJ DMC Coordinator Rhyna Jefferson at (850) 921-4172 or via email at rhyna.jefferson@djj.state.fl.us.

The mission of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice 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. For more information, please visit our website at FlaDJJ.com or www.djj.state.fl.us.

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