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Juvenile Justice Research Institute Kicks Off with FAMU Homecoming

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Tallahassee, FL -- The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) today joined with representatives from Florida's historically black college, universities and Florida Atlantic University, along with state and community leaders, at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) to celebrate the grand opening of the Juvenile Justice Research Institute (JJRI). The JJRI celebration ushers in FAMU's annual homecoming weekend, a busy time filled with visiting alumni and friends.

"The over-representation of minorities, particularly black young men, is a special concern in juvenile justice systems across the country," said DJJ Secretary Frank Peterman Jr. "I believe support from the academic community in addressing delinquency will greatly encourage our troubled youth, and show them a positive path filled with young people who are not so very different from themselves."

DJJ has directed $400,000 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention to support the work of the JJRI, at the recommendation of Florida's Juvenile Justice State Advisory Group. Peterman will present a ceremonial check for the JJRI to FAMU President James Ammons during the FAMU homecoming football game on Saturday.

The JJRI, which is established at FAMU, will draw together the collaborative efforts of Bethune-Cookman University, Edward Waters College, Florida Atlantic University and Florida Memorial University. The JJRI will examine and address minority over-representation in Florida's juvenile justice system, commonly referred to as Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC). In addition to researching the causes and remedies to DMC, the Institute will promote a college student mentorship program with local DJJ facilities. Students in human services disciplines, such as sociology and criminal justice, will be targeted for recruitment as mentors.

Minority over-representation in the juvenile justice system exists when the proportion of DJJ youths who are members of minority groups exceeds the proportion of those groups within the general population. For example, DJJ data from 2009-10 shows that black youths make up 39 percent of the children sent to DJJ, although they account for only 21.5 percent of Florida’s youth population (ages 10-17). By contrast, white youths comprise only 40 percent of DJJ's population, although they are almost 75 percent of Florida's youth population.

For more DJJ information on DMC, please visit http://www.djj.state.fl.us/services/prevention/federal-grants/disproportionate-minority-contact-(dmc).

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Secretary Frank Peterman, Jr. speaks at the Juvenile Justice Research Institute Kick Off