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Myths vs. Facts

Visit this page to learn more about commonly held myths and misperceptions about Florida’s juvenile justice system.
This page corrects some commonly held myths and misperceptions about Florida’s juvenile justice system. For each myth, we've provided a response with links to research and documentation that provides the facts. Click on the link under the corresponding "fact" for more information.

Myths vs. Facts about Florida's Juvenile Justice System

Myth: “High Needs” youth are better served in deep-end or intensive placements, such as residential facilities.
Fact: Front-end community-based services are more effective for low risk to re-offend youth that are “high needs”.

Myth: The risk assessments used by DJJ (the C-PACT and R-PACT) are not valid predictors of risk.
Both the C-PACT and the R-PACT are validated assessments of risk to re-offend.

Myth: Youth served by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice are Repeat Violent Offenders.
Fact: Less than 9% of the youth served by FDJJ are serious, violent, and chronic offenders.

Myth: Most juvenile offenders are gang-involved youth.
Fact: Less than 5% of youth arrested have any gang alert. However, those with gang alerts are more likely to have been first arrested at age 12 or younger, and more likely to be Serious, Violent, and Chronic (SVC) Offenders.

Myth: The longer a juvenile stays in a residential program, the less likely he or she is to re-offend.
Fact: Research has found that increased length-of-stay alone does not reduce the likelihood of re-offense.

Myth: Direct Commitments/Bench Commitments made without Florida Department of Juvenile Justice recommendations are an effective way to reduce crime.
Fact: Lower risk, minority males are more likely to receive direct commitments without a FDJJ recommendation. Recidivism rates of direct commitment youth are over 8% higher than identically matched probation supervision youth.

Myth: Girls in Florida are more violent than in the past.
Fact: Girls are substantially less violent today than in the past.

Myth: Delinquency arrests increase in the summer when kids are out of school and have less formal supervision.
Fact: Delinquency arrests consistently decline in the summer and during December.

Myth: Juvenile boot camps are highly effective at rehabilitating offenders and reducing recidivism.
Fact: Juvenile boot camp programs are less than or equally as effective at rehabilitation and recidivism reduction compared with residential or community-based programs.

Myth: “Scared Straight” programs can help troubled kids from entering the juvenile justice system.
Fact: Research has repeatedly shown that so‐called “Scared Straight” programs are ineffective and can actually be harmful to some youth. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) does not support and will not fund such initiatives.

Myth: Secure detention is a good “wake-up” call for youth and will help them correct their behavior.
Fact: Studies have found that being detained can actually make things worse for some youth.  DJJ supports the appropriate use of detention and is actively working with organizations such as the Annie E. Casey Foundation to reduce unnecessary detentions.


If you have any questions about the data presented on this page, please contact:

Mark A. Greenwald, M.J.P.M.

Director, Research and Data Integrity

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
2737 Centerview Drive, Suite 1200
Tallahassee, FL 32399-3100

(850) 717-2627