Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Juvenile Crime Drop Studied

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Juvenile Crime Drop Studied

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida's juvenile justice chief attributes a

statewide decline in felony arrests of juveniles to tougher

sanctions and aggressive prevention programs.

But the statistics should be evaluated with caution,

criminologists warn.

Calvin Ross, secretary of the state Department of Juvenile

Justice, will be in Jacksonville tomorrow for a news conference

and roundtable discussing the statistics and focusing on local

juvenile programs. The department is focusing on the reduction

in most serious juvenile crimes since it began operation in


But skeptics point out there is a national decline in

juvenile crime and Florida's decrease might be part of a wider


Todd Clear, associate dean and professor of criminology and

criminal justice at Florida State University, said it is

premature to declare the state's initiatives a success on the

basis of the statistics.

"Maybe a lot of things are being done right, but this is not

the best way to find that out," Clear said.

At least two studies are under way to evaluate the state's

crackdown on juvenile crime and determine the extent to which it

is responsible for the apparent decrease.

The state's Juvenile Justice Advisory Board is assessing the

effectiveness of juvenile justice programs, and three FSU

professors have received a grant to study prevention programs


Tim Center, senior attorney for the Juvenile Justice Advisory

Board, said his study "will determine if the department is being

effective or is it just that we're lucky right now."

The numbers look good, though not all counties shared in the

most recent drop.

Duval, after three years of declines, had a 10 percent

increase in juvenile felony arrests last year. State Attorney

Harry Shorstein attributes the increase to aggressive policing,

including the hiring of 40 school resource officers who made 285

felony arrests in the past year. …

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