Florida Department of Juvenile Justice

PACE Center

A Jacksonville-based nonprofit that helps keep girls out of jail is expanding into Georgia as it celebrates its 35th anniversary. 

The PACE Center for Girls focuses on prevention as part of Florida’s juvenile justice system. 

onaeg news agency

Thursday on First Coast Connect we spoke with Florida Times-Union reporter Tessa Duvall on her report looking into how children in Florida’s juvenile justice system fare once they are released from prison (01:19).

Commentator Jay Solomon gave us his thoughts on the #NeverAgain movement (25:00).  

Mary Anne Jacobs with Girls Scouts of Gateway Council talked about this year’s Girl Scout cookie sales drive (30:50).

Hendricks Baptist Church music director Tommy Shapard told us about a free concert this weekend by organist Andrew Clarke (37:44).

With the Monster Jam coming to Everbank Field this weekend we spoke with the driver of Soldier of Fortune, Chad Fortune (46:00).                    

young man under arrest
Chris Yarzab via Flickr

The number of juvenile arrests in Northeast Florida has dropped by more than a quarter over the past five years.  A new report from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice shows the lowest number of juvenile arrests in 40 years, statewide.

Rhema Thompson

There’s something universally jarring about the sound of shackles. It’s slow and, while high-pitched, carries a timbre of gloom.

It’s especially unnerving when those shackles are chained to the feet and arms of a slight, young man, like the one who stood in front of an audience on a recent evening.

“At the end of the day, y’all are going home. I’m still locked up,” he told the group of young men sitting before him.

His words were quiet, but he had their full attention.

New York Law School Diane Abbey Law Center For Children and Families

TALLAHASSEE (The News Service of Florida) — A decade into a dispute about how to divvy up the costs of detaining young offenders, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and more than two-dozen counties are digging in for more legal fighting.

Governor Rick Scott has approved a measure reforming Florida’s juvenile justice system. He signed the bill into law on the same day he bid farewell to the outgoing Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary and named her temporary replacement.

Before presenting her with a resolution during Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Scott said a few words about Wansley Walters, his state Department head of Juvenile Justice, who’s slated to end her role in a few weeks.

WFSU’s Sascha Cordner sat down with outgoing Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters, who will be retiring in a month from her role, as first reported by the News Service of Florida. As the agency’s first female head, she’s also one of the longest serving agency heads under Governor Rick Scott. She’s been responsible for a number of innovations, including a civil citation program that has helped reduce the overall juvenile crime-rate.

Hear Part 1 of our conversation below. Stay tuned to next week's Capital Report to hear Part 2.

An ongoing fight between Florida’s counties and the state Department of Juvenile Justice is expected to continue during a hearing next week, considering a new formula with which both sides will divvy up the cost of Florida’s juvenile detention centers.

Today, 38 counties are supposed to be responsible for paying about 32 percent of juvenile detention costs. That’s according to Florida Association of Counties Spokeswoman Craigin Mosteller.

Rhema Thompson / WJCT

It was supposed to be a meeting between the State Attorney Angela Corey and members of the Jacksonville Clergy to address the county’s civil citation track record. But it didn’t last for long.

In Florida, one of the nation's largest school districts has overhauled its discipline policies with a single purpose in mind — to reduce the number of children going into the juvenile justice system.

It's a move away from so-called "zero tolerance" policies that require schools to refer even minor misdemeanors to the police. Critics call it a "school to prison pipeline."

Civil rights and education activists say the policy can be a model for the nation.

Florida Struggles To Craft Juvenile Sentencing Policy

Oct 16, 2013
Publik15 / Flickr

TALLAHASSEE (The News Service of Florida) — As state legislators have tried and failed to craft a juvenile-sentencing law that conforms to landmark U.S. Supreme Court rulings, a national advocacy group is calling Florida a "clear outlier" among states for its hard-line approach to trying juveniles as adults.

The Washington-based Campaign for Youth Justice, which opposes incarcerating youths under 18 as adults, says Florida transfers more teens to adult criminal court than any other state.

TALLAHASSEE (The News Service of Florida) — In the wake of a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upended sentencing guidelines for juveniles, the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments in a case involving Shimeeka Gridine, who was sentenced to 70 years in prison for crimes committed when he was 14 years old.

Florida DJJ

Florida’s juvenile justice system has been at the forefront of discussions around the state lately, with a push to reform laws affecting residents under 18.

The issue received a lot of media attention when the  Dream Defenders decided to camp out at the state capitol in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict.