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Florida to Participate in National Effort to Reform Juvenile Justice

Georgetown University to Partner with DJJ in Pinellas County

For immediate release:

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Tallahassee, Fla. -- Florida is one of four states recently selected to participate in a groundbreaking national initiative to reform its juvenile justice system by translating "what works" into everyday practice and policy.

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) was notified that it had been chosen for the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP). Administered by Georgetown University's Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, the JJSIP provides a framework for implementing best practices throughout the entire juvenile justice system.

“We are deeply grateful for this opportunity to improve outcomes for youth in our care and are honored that Georgetown recognized Florida's suitability for this project,” said DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters. "Historically, juvenile justice programs have been evaluated with respect to recidivism rates. After this project is complete, we will have a better understanding of why some programs have better outcomes than others. This will ensure continuous quality improvement of services for all our youth."

The JJSIP will:

  • Produce an evaluation tool to identify any shortcomings in juvenile programs or services.
  • Evaluate how closely those programs or services align with the most prominent research in the field.
  • Help identify concrete recommendations for improvement

The Georgetown team will work with prominent criminologists to provide technical assistance to the state throughout the 18-month project period beginning later this summer. The team will evaluate DJJ's services to ensure an adequate range of graduated sanctions with interventions designed to reduce the risk of committing future offenses.

At the end of the process, Florida will have implemented the JJSIP fully in one county and begun to implement it statewide. Pinellas County has been selected as the demonstration site for the project and Georgetown will announce the other participating states in the near future.

In commenting on Florida's selection and the significance of the project, Shay Bilchik, the founder and director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform said, "We hope that implementing the JJSIP provides the field with more information on how to take research we have about effectively serving juvenile justice involved youth and apply it to improve outcomes for all youth who touch the system. This has been a key challenge facing our work and one we believe the JJSIP will help address."

To learn more about the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University, visit http://cjjr.georgetown.edu.

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