Florida juvenile justice officials are starting a tour for feedback on their new plan to reduce the number of teens in lock-up. Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters presided at a packed house in Leon County Thursday - the first stop of a dozen.
On hand was Ruth Nettles, who said she now regrets reporting her daughter to law enforcement for taking the family car.
"To be judged when you're 17 or 18 for something that you did when you were 13 or 14 or 15 or even 16, you know – you're judged", said Nettles. "And you can't get a job. You can't grow."
DJJ wants to shift non-violent, first-time offenders like Nettles' daughter from lock-ups to community-based punishment and services. That means closing some detention facilities, but Walters said intervention works better in most cases and costs less.
"Paying more attention to the front end, we've already seen a natural reduction of the residential. But what's critical to us is to convince the Legislature to really allow us to reinvest in the system", Walters said.
Next stop on the DJJ tour: Alachua County on November 27th.