BSO PARTICIPATES IN STATE-WIDE INITIATIVE TO CURB JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
The Broward Sheriff’s Office has received funding from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to implement a new program to reduce school-based arrests.
The Civil Citation/Equal Justice Grant Project is part of a state-wide initiative lead by the Department of Juvenile Justice to reduce delinquency through effective prevention and intervention services that strengthen families and turn around the lives of troubled youth.
It will serve youth who attend middle schools located in areas of the county that have the highest rates of delinquency referrals.
BSO has undertaken a comprehensive approach incorporating enforcement, prevention and intervention strategies to reduce juvenile crime in Broward County. In fact, since 2002, juvenile arrests in the county have dropped more than 16%. Additionally, arrests of juveniles for more serious (UCR Part 1) crimes have dropped 23% during that period of time.
During the 2006-2007 school year, BSO made 455 school-based arrests. A widely-supported theory states that early intervention in schools may be the most appropriate institution to target risk factors, reduce antisocial and criminal behavior patterns, and to promote productive citizenship and social responsibility.
In lieu of arrest, BSO school resource deputies may issue a civil citation to a juvenile who commits a misdemeanor on or near school grounds, provided the youth has no more than two prior misdemeanor arrests. This citation will require the juvenile to participate in an intensive restorative justice program. That includes community service projects designed to have juveniles interact with the public in a positive manner and a restorative justice conference where the juvenile is expected to take responsibility and to make restitution to the victim. Juveniles who fail to complete the requirements of the civil citation are referred back to the deputy who then will issue a report that could lead to an arrest.
The program will be coordinated by BSO’s newly formed Juvenile and Child Safety Services Bureau. Currently the bureau has school resource deputies in 38 elementary, 13 middle, 10 high schools and eight alternative high schools. The bureau also oversees operations of the Juvenile Assessment Center, juvenile diversion programs and services, joint planning programs, development, research and evaluation.
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