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DJJ Adulthood Transition Services Bill Passes Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee

DJJ priority legislation progresses with bipartisan support from the Senate and the House

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Tallahassee -- The Florida Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee has unanimously passed DJJ's SB 1356, sponsored by Sen. Stephen Wise (R-Jacksonville), which will help teenagers who are in the juvenile justice system to learn the necessary life skills for adulthood.

"I thank Senator Stephen Wise for sponsoring this legislation that will help give these kids the tools they need to become productive citizens," said DJJ Secretary Frank Peterman, Jr. "Kids in the juvenile justice system often do not have the support systems to teach them the basic life skills that many of us take for granted."

"SB 1356 provides DJJ kids the life skills training that will move them toward becoming productive citizens," said Wise.

SB 1356 will promote the availability of transition services to children age 17 years and older that teach skills like applying and interviewing for a job, finding a place to live and balancing their finances. Familiarity with such basic concepts and skills will increase a young person's ability to adapt to adulthood as a productive, law-abiding citizen.

Children often age out of DJJ at age 19 with no support network and no one to help them. For these youth to successfully transition to adulthood and avoid homelessness, unemployment, and vulnerability to the pressures that can lead them into a cycle of vagrancy, petty crime and, possibly, the adult correctional system, they need help. This bill allows DJJ to support their transition to adulthood, and it could help them to break juvenile-justice-to-adult-correctional-system cycle, funds permitting. The language in statute helps to posture DJJ to be able to address this need more comprehensively.

The DJJ Adulthood Transition Services Bill, sponsored by Sen. Stephen Wise (R-Jacksonville) has four referrals in the Senate. Next, it will travel to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. The House companion bill, HB 627, sponsored by Rep. Ari Porth (D-Coral Springs), passed the House Public Safety and Domestic Security Policy Committee this morning. HB 627 is next referred to the House Full Appropriations Council on Education & Economic Development.

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