Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Fewer Young People Are Getting Arrested

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Fewer Young People Are Getting Arrested

Article excerpt

Like the adult crime rate, the juvenile crime rate is also plummeting in Florida.

"This trend grossly underreported," state Sen. Rob Bradley, R- Fleming Island, tweeted after Gov. Rick Scott and the Department of Juvenile Justice highlighted the 2013-14 stats in a release this week. A former state prosecutor, Bradley has helped guide criminal justice spending and programs over the last two years.

The DJJ said the number of juveniles being arrested for crimes -- felonies, misdemeanors and violations of probation -- dropped 8 percent from the prior year. Since 2009, the number has plunged 36 percent, from nearly 122,000 a year to just under 79,000.

"Making Florida the best state in the nation to get a job and raise a family is our mission -- and that starts with making sure we have safe communities for our families and job creators," Scott said.

Scott can point to a 28 percent drop in juveniles arrested for felonies since 2009, including a 66 percent drop in juveniles arrested for murder or manslaughter since then.

Florida officials can take some of the credit for the declining juvenile crime rate. But like the drop in adult crime, Florida is also following a national trend in declining juvenile crime. The National Center for Juvenile Justice reported in July that the number of juvenile cases nationally had declined 24 percent between 2007 and 2011 -- the latest year in the report.

Florida officials have been proactive in trying to address the juvenile crime trends. They have initiated a series of programs designed to better direct the funding and resources to the most critical juveniles, while also expanding programs that can divert some juveniles from a more serious life of crime.

"This decrease in arrests over nearly every juvenile offense category, including serious offenses, shows that DJJ's reform initiatives are working," said interim DJJ Secretary Christina Daly.

Daly said the DJJ embarked a reform initiative, called the "Roadmap to System Excellence," two years ago with the aim of improving the system. …

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