The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has cause to celebrate. It’s efforts to address juvenile delinquency is showing signs of progress. It has invested heavily in educational and other programs that counteract criminal behavior among Florida’s youth, and those investments have reaped significant gains.
No turning Back
Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, law enforcement and local communities have forged relationships in an effort to help Florida’s youth and combat crime. Those efforts were largely attributable to programs that serve the varied needs of the youth. The results? Well, a record, 46-year low arrest record of juveniles. While the country watched growing crime rates across the US, Florida was observing different numbers. Overall arrests of young people fell by 30% with felonies down by 22% and misdemeanors down by 32%.
Make no mistake, however. These declining numbers are the result of hard work and deliberate actions by Florida’s leadership. The Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation and the Florida Prepaid College Foundation pooled their resources to provide $20,000 in scholarship funds to juvenile, justice-involved youth. The program is aimed at low-income students who have a disproportionate risk of becoming high-school dropouts. But instead of quitting school, the recipients of these scholarships are being readied for success in college.
Hope for the future
Continued efforts by Governor DeSantis to curb juvenile crime will also include mental health services. He is proposing the allocation of millions of dollars for mental health services, including counseling. Studies have shown that counseling has a direct correlation to crime reduction among juveniles. For example, Florida’s DJJ equine therapy program in Ocala gives credence to the studies that declare therapy a vital component of reducing criminal behavior. Retired thoroughbred horses were used to provide therapeutic treatment to at-risk youth, and the program was successful. Due to that success, a statewide expansion of this program is under review.
Given the victories of this community partnership, these programs will continue to expand in the hopes of maintaining low arrest numbers of young people. By helping Florida’s youth, safer communities are resulting.