Rewrite of Juvenile Justice Statute Would Include Prevention, Trauma-Informed Care

Feb 25, 2014

Credit Steven Depolo
The Florida Legislature is moving to overhaul the law governing the Department of Juvenile Justice during the session that starts March 4th. The rewrite would focus on preventing kids from coming into the juvenile justice system in the first place. It would also create criminal penalties for the abuse or neglect of young people in the department's custody. DJJ secretary Wansley Walters says trauma is responsible for many juveniles' getting into trouble.

"The vast majority of children who make their way to the deeper end of our juvenile justice system are routinely children who have been neglected, have been abused and have been traumatized much of their life", said Walters. 

The rewrite also includes transition services for juveniles as they leave detention facilities and return to their communities. 

Lawmakers have been generally supportive of Walters' strategy because delinquency in Florida has declined so much. The number of juvenile arrests statewide has dropped 23% since 2011.