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DJJ Reports Fewer Delinquents in Florida Schools

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Tallahassee -- Juvenile delinquency in Florida’s public schools declined dramatically during the last six months of 2011, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) announced today.

Delinquency referrals in schools throughout the state declined 16 percent compared to the same period the year before. School referrals declined in 46 of Florida’s 67 counties, with Miami-Dade recording the biggest numeric decline (353 cases or 60 percent) in school-related delinquency. A school-related referral is an arrest for a juvenile misdemeanor or felony committed on school grounds.

"Florida’s public schools are safer today than they have been at any time since we first started tracking this data in 2004," said DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters. "Juvenile delinquency overall is declining sharply in Florida, and we are very pleased to see that this trend carries over to schools, as well. Effective alternatives to arrest like civil citation are helping make schools safer and reducing the number of youth receiving an arrest record for acts of misconduct."

Walters singled out Miami-Dade for helping move the numbers in the right direction in Florida’s most populous county.

"The news that Miami-Dade County recorded the largest decline in school-related juvenile referrals is extremely encouraging," said Chief Charles J. Hurley of the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department. "While our work is not completed, we are making tremendous progress in moving toward a pure prevention model, with enforcement as a last resort and an emphasis on education."

The majority of school-related arrests are for misdemeanors. DJJ is the state agency charged with processing all youth charged with delinquent acts through the courts and subsequent sanctions.

DJJ is focused on providing effective sanctions and treatments when youth first encounter the juvenile justice system. Through cost-effective, community-based programs such as civil citation, at-risk youth receive interventions before their behavior escalates to more serious delinquent acts. For more information on civil citation, click here.

"We are encouraged that delinquency in our schools is on the decline," said Walters. "However, opportunities exist for further reductions through expansion of early intervention and prevention programs."

Detailed statistics for each county are included in the attachment. Note: Fiscal Year (FY) begins July 1.

Click here for detailed statistics on each county.

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