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Florida’s juvenile arrests reach lowest level in 30 years

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Juvenile arrests in Florida have dropped 23 percent since January 2011, and the number of arrests for delinquency is down 24 percent – the lowest since 1984, according to a statement released by Gov. Rick Scott Wednesday.

“Today’s youth are the future workforce of Florida,” Scott said in the statement. “By preventing juvenile delinquency, we are providing Florida’s youth with more opportunities to succeed. With juvenile arrests at the lowest rate in 30 years, and a crime rate that is on path to a 43 year low, it is clear that the efforts we are taking to create a safe, opportunistic environment in Florida are working.”

Every family should have the opportunity to live the American dream in the Sunshine State, Scott said, adding that there is still more work to be done.

School safetyDespite operating with the smallest budget in 17 years, the Department of Juvenile Justice reported “drastic reductions in nearly every juvenile offense category,” the statement said.

“At DJJ, we are committed to providing the right services, in the right place, in the right way, at the right time,” Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters said in the release. “Community safety is actually compromised when youth are inappropriately arrested, so we have placed an emphasis on prevention and diversion efforts. Last year alone, the state invested nearly $11 million toward preventing juvenile delinquency, and these numbers are proof that we’re making the right reforms to keep our communities safe and our youth on the path to successful adulthood.”

Walters said she and her team developed the “Roadmap to System Excellence” strategic plan to maximize efficiency and produce more effective programs.

The statement noted significant improvements during fiscal year 2010-11 in these areas:

Florida’s juvenile crime rate is down from 59 delinquency arrests per 1,000 juveniles during FY 2010-11 to 46 delinquency arrests for every 1,000 juveniles during FY 2012-13;

School-based arrests declined by 27 percent;

The number of arrests involving a felony offense dropped 17 percent;

Murder/Manslaughter arrests decreased 52 percent;

Admissions to secure detention declined 26 percent; and

The number of youth in Florida transferred to adult court declined 36 percent.

“Deterring youth from the juvenile justice system not only saves taxpayer dollars, it affords our state’s youth more opportunities to chase their dreams and when our state’s children succeed, we all reap the benefits,” Walters said.

Stacy Gromatski, president and CEO, of the Florida Network of Family Services, agreed.

“These outstanding declines in juvenile delinquency validate the story prevention advocates have been telling for years,” she said, according to the statement. “When we reach kids early, we have an opportunity to make a difference and truly change the entire course of their lives.”

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