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2013 DJJ Legislative Initiatives

1. Grand Jury Recommendation (Sen. Evers SB678/ Rep. Harrell HB353)
  • The proposal will create F.S. 985.702 so that protections similar to those found in F.S. 944.35 for adult offenders under the custody or supervision of the Department of Corrections will be provided to juveniles and young adults under DJJ custody or supervision.
    • Currently, section 827.03, Florida Statutes, makes abuse, aggravated abuse and neglect of “a child” a felony of varying degree.  A “child” is defined as “any person under the age of 18 years.”  Because young adults are common in DJJ facilities and programs, the basic protections of the statute do not extend to everyone in DJJ custody or supervision, despite the fact that they remain vulnerable by virtue of their status as juvenile offenders. 
    • Without eliminating the current protections found in section 827.03, the new statute will protect all offenders in DJJ custody or supervision from malicious battery, inhuman treatment or neglect at the hands of staff in DJJ operated or contracted programs.
2. Juvenile Justice Boards and Councils (Sen. Evers SB676/ Rep. Pilon HB617)
  • F.S. 985.664 authorizes the creation of 87 different boards and councils. DJJ proposes streamlining this system into 20 Circuit Advisory Boards representing each judicial circuit and county in the state. Currently, not all existing boards and councils are able to comply with the statutory requirements of membership and the current system does not produce consistent results. A manageable system of high-performing Circuit Advisory Boards can be achieved by requiring a county commissioner, sheriff, local police chief, and workforce board member from each county in the circuit; along with the state attorney, public defender and judge from the circuit.  This will provide a stronger voice for counties and local communities in juvenile justice related issues, encourage stronger collaboration at the local level, allow for stronger community-based partnerships, and puts Florida’s families first.
3. Repeal Youth Custody Officer and Jail Tours (Sen. Evers SB672 / Rep. Harrell HB4019)
  • F.S.985.105 is an obsolete statute as Youth Custody Officers (YCO) were eliminated from the budget effective July 1, 2010.  The duties of YCO were either distributed among existing employees, or are no longer performed by the Department.
  • F.S. 945.75 allows the state and each county to develop a program by which a judge may order a juvenile to tour a state correctional facility or county jail.  Punitive jail tours violate the Federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, which can result in DJJ losing two-thirds of its federal funding. The funding at stake is used to fund community-based prevention programs, which are typically a high return on investment.