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DJJ Adulthood Transition Services Bill Passes Senate Criminal Justice Committee

DJJ priority legislation passes second committee of reference

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Tallahassee -- The Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee has unanimously passed DJJ's Transition to Adulthood bill (SB 1356), sponsored by Sen. Stephen Wise (R-Jacksonville), which will help teen-agers who are in the juvenile justice system to learn the necessary life skills for adulthood.

"I thank Senator Wise for sponsoring this legislation," said DJJ Secretary Frank Peterman, Jr. "Kids in the juvenile justice system often do not have the support systems to teach them the basic 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 captures services for DJJ youth that DCF offers children in foster care. It will support their transition to adulthood, and help them to break juvenile-justice-to-adult-correctional-system cycle.

The DJJ Adulthood Transition Services Bill has two more referrals in the Senate. Next, it is will travel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The House companion bill, HB 627, sponsored by Rep. Ari Porth (D-Coral Springs), has been referred to the Full Appropriations Council on Education and Economic Development.

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