What is the purpose of the program?
What services does the program provide?
The program provides
- intake assessment;
- probation supervision;
- day treatment;
- post-commitment; and
- probation enhancement services.
What is an intake assessment?
When youth are arrested, the law enforcement officer assesses the seriousness of the offense and decides whether to release the youth to a parent or guardian, refer the youth to a diversion program, or take the youth to a juvenile assessment center or a juvenile probation officer for assessment. If the youth is taken to a juvenile probation officer or a juvenile assessment center, the intake assessment measures the risk of the youth to public safety. The assessment includes a criminal history records check, screening for detention center placement, an assessment for suicide risk, and mental health and substance abuse screening. The probation officer then interviews the youth and parents, the arresting officer, and the victim to make a recommendation to the state attorney regarding whether court action should be taken.
Youth at risk of becoming delinquent or charged with minor crimes may be diverted from the formal judicial system by participating in specific programs. These include Community Arbitration, Teen Court, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Boys & Girls Clubs. The purpose of these diversion programs is to aid youth at the beginning of delinquency, reduce recidivism, and provide services.
What percentage of youth commits another offense after diversion?
The department defines recidivism as a subsequent
adjudication or conviction. Approximately 15% of the youth who were released from a diversion program in Fiscal Year 2018-19 recidivated.
Youth who are adjudicated for a crime may remain in their communities under the supervision of a juvenile probation officer. The court restricts the youth's activities while on probation and typically requires the youth to complete activities that target individual needs and risks. The juvenile probation officer works as a case manager to coordinate and monitor the youth's services and sanctions.
Eligible youth who are under consideration for commitment to a residential program may be diverted to the redirection program. This program allows youth to remain at home and in school while they and their families participate in family therapy. Therapy modalities for this program are multi-systemic therapy, functional family therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. In Fiscal Year 2019-20, the department served 686 youth through redirection while on probation and 488 youth through redirection during aftercare, which includes youth on post-commitment supervision.
Youth on both probation and conditional release may be sent to day treatment. Day treatment programs provide education, anger management classes, social skills building, and substance abuse education. In Fiscal Year 2019-20, the department reported that 727 youth participated in day treatment.
Do youth receive any services in the community after their commitment?
Youth receive services in the community after commitment through state-operated and contracted post-commitment programs. These programs provide monitoring and services to youth as they transition back into the community after a residential program.
In Fiscal Year 2019-20, there were 3,236 youth served through state operated post-commitment services.
How are these activities funded?
Juvenile Civil Citation and Diversion Programs. The 2018 Legislature enacted Ch. 2018-127, Laws of Florida, which requires that a civil citation or similar prearrest diversion program for misdemeanor offenses be established in each judicial circuit. The state attorney of each circuit must operate the program. If a juvenile does not successfully complete the program, the arresting law enforcement office must determine if good cause exists to arrest the juvenile for the original misdemeanor offense and refer the case to the state attorney. The state attorney determines if the juvenile should be prosecuted for the original misdemeanor or continue in the program. Once a juvenile completes the civil citation program or similar prearrest diversion program, the state attorney or operator of another program must report the outcome to the Department of Juvenile Justice.
The 2019 Legislature enacted Ch. 2019-167, Laws of Florida, which made further changes to civil citation. It added a locally authorized entity to the list of entities that can operate a civil citation program as long as the program was already operating as of October 1, 2018, and approved by the state attorney. Additionally, the law transfers data entry responsibility from DJJ to the civil citation program. It requires the program to enter data into DJJ's data system within seven days of the youth's admission.
The Department of Juvenile Justice reported that in Fiscal Year 2019-20 counties issued civil citations or another arrest alternative to 7,170 youth, which was 60% of youth who were eligible to receive a civil citation.
Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?
Direct File of Children to Adult Court Is Decreasing; Better Data Needed to Assess Sanctions, Report 17-06, March 2017
Where can I get more information?
What are the applicable statutes?
Chapter 985, Florida Statutes.
Whom do I contact for help?
Paul Hatcher, Assistant Secretary Probation and Community Intervention, 850-717-2571