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The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Announces Florida Race Equity Challenge Award Winners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 15, 2021

CONTACT:
DJJ Communications Office
news@djj.state.fl.us                                           
(850) 921-5900

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice along with other Florida Youth Justice Commission partners announce the winners of the first-ever Florida Race Equity Challenge. Launched this past summer, the Florida Race Equity Challenge is a web-based, interactive experience that provides juvenile justice stakeholders with the education and tools to identify and tackle issues related to race, equity, and inclusion within the juvenile justice system.

Over the course of several months, teams in each Florida circuit participated in live webinars, completed tasks, and submitted proposals for systematic changes designed to create more equitable outcomes for youth. These teams included representatives from Florida’s schools, courts, law enforcement, community partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.

“The level of community and stakeholder participation for our inaugural Florida Race Equity Challenge has been awe-inspiring,” said DJJ Secretary Simone Marstiller. “Congratulations to our winners and to all participants for your passion and dedication to the critical issues of eliminating bias and creating meaningful change for youth of color in our juvenile justice system”

The Florida Race Equity Challenge presented awards in four categories: Best Breakthrough Video, Policy/Practice Improvement, Scalability, and Innovation. The award winners are as follows:

Best Breakthrough Video Award: Circuit 2 Team

The Florida Race Equity Challenge tasked circuit teams with producing and sharing a video summary of their experience. Teams were encouraged to share their thoughts about the Challenge, ways the Challenge changed their personal and professional perspectives, and initiatives their circuit chose to implement as a result. The Circuit 2 Team was chosen for the Best Breakthrough Video Award by their fellow Florida Race Equity Challenge participants statewide.

Policy/Practice Improvement Award: Circuit 12 Team

The Policy/Practice Improvement award is given to the circuit that improved an existing policy, practice, or program to create a greater sense of equity. Circuit 12 chose to focus on the reduction of disproportionality in arrests. During the analysis period, the team realized misdemeanor assault/battery offenses made up the largest number of arrests in the circuit during Fiscal Year 18-19.  While Black youth make up 12% of the juvenile population in Circuit 12, they accounted for 49% of the assault/battery arrests in the circuit. The team also noted that fewer youth received civil citations for assault/battery offenses than any other offense.

As a result, law enforcement in Circuit 12 have committed to modifying their civil citation policy related to battery offenses, as well as other civil citation eligible offenses to allow more utilization.  Circuit 12 will be working toward a more streamlined approach to handling civil citations as a circuit wide initiative. Additionally, Circuit 12 is creating a resource guide to educate both law enforcement and community members on community-based resources that are available to assist with conflicts in the home. The goal is to provide families with resources that can be used to de-escalate and resolve conflict before a situation of immediate danger occurs. This resource guide will be distributed with a focus on reaching youth and families of color.

Scalability Award: Circuit 19 Team

The Scalability award is given to the circuit whose proposal is the most scalable and whose idea can be used to reshape policies, practices, and/or programs statewide. Circuit 19's race equity team also focused on arrest rates, zeroing in on civil citation utilization. In digging deeper into the data, the team found that there were a vast number of incidents where the reason for not issuing a civil citation could not be determined. To address this issue, the Circuit 19 team is creating an updated training video on civil citation utilization, which will provide new and current law enforcement officers a better understanding of the importance of civil citations and how to issue the citations in an efficient manner.  In addition, Circuit 19 law enforcement agencies will include the issuances of civil citations and/or clear documentation of reasons for non-issuance in the existing incentives programs for law enforcement. The Circuit 19 team is committed to increasing civil citations for all eligible youth, reducing disproportionality in misdemeanor arrests, and enhancing partnerships to create more equitable practices.

Innovation Award: Circuit 2 Team

The Circuit 2 team began the challenge with a focus on arrests. Although Black youth make up 40% of the youth population in Circuit 2, they constitute 80% of all juvenile arrests in the circuit.  The team also discovered lower than expected civil citation utilization and higher than expected violations of probation.  These points led to a discussion about the quality of partnership with parents in the circuit. This, in turn, led the team to form focus groups, which consisted of local parents and both DJJ involved and non-DJJ involved youth, to gain a better understanding of their perspectives before determining the best course of action. These focus groups helped the circuit to realize it needed to become a better partner to the parents in their community and in response, the Circuit 2 team launched a parent-navigator program. The parent-navigator program will serve as a community-based parent support group for all local parents and provide help regarding school-related issues, mental health concerns, and understanding the benefits of civil citation and diversion programs for at-risk youth.

The theme for the next part of the Florida Race Equity Challenge will be “Enhancing Race Equity and Inclusion through the Youth and Family Voice.” 

Additional information about the Florida Race Equity Challenge can be found here and more information about the Florida Youth Justice Commission can be found here.


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