The Florida Juvenile Justice Act of 1994 reorganized and redefined the state’s juvenile justice system and created the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Previously, all juvenile offenses were handled by the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (now the Department of Children and Families) under chapter 39 of the Florida Statutes. In 1997, all statutes related to offenses committed by children were removed from Chapter 39 and re-created in chapter 984 and 985 F.S.
The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is responsible for planning and managing all programs and services in Florida’s juvenile justice system. Programming for children whose actions bring them under the jurisdiction of chapters 984 and 985 of the Florida Statutes fall on a continuum which includes prevention, diversion, case management, detention, commitment facilities and aftercare programming.
Pinellas County Youths Referred to DJJ
The total number of Pinellas County youths under 18 referred to DJJ (see below for DJJ’s definition of youths referred) has declined steadily since FY 2003-04 (see chart 1), an overall decline of 45%. In addition, these declines appeared across all age groups. Since the number of youths referred is an unduplicated count of the total number of youths referred to DJJ, the actual number of juvenile offenses is substantially higher. In 2009-10, the total number of juvenile offenses was approximately 6,300, double the number of individual youths referred.
Definition of Youths Referred
....."The number of youths referred is determined by counting only the most serious referral for which a youth is charged during any fiscal year. If the same youth is referred for several offenses during that year, only one would be counted, using the most serious offense charged during the fiscal year."
"A Profile of Florida Delinquency - FY 2000/01-FY 2005/06," Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. Department of Juvenile Justice fiscal year is July through June.
In FY 2009-10, 75% of Pinellas County’s referrals were 15-17 years of age, 25% were 10-14 years old and less than 1% were under 10 (see chart 2).
48% of youths referred were white non-Hispanic, 43% were black non-Hispanic and 7% were Hispanic (chart 3).
Pinellas County DJJ Referrals by ZIP Code
In FY 2008-09, ZIP codes 33705, 33712 and 33711 had the highest number of youths referred to DJJ, accounting for 22% of the total number of Pinellas County youths referred. These same ZIP codes, which are located in the southern portion of Pinellas County, are among those areas with the highest poverty rates in Pinellas County. DJJ - Youths Referred by Zip Code - FY 2008-09 to view a map showing Pinellas County DJJ referrals by ZIP code.
Comparison of Pinellas to the State and Comparably Sized Counties
The declines in the number of Pinellas County’s DJJ referrals since 2003-04 has exceeded those reported by other similarly-sized Florida counties (chart 4).
Trends in the number of DJJ referrals per 1,000 youth population (chart 5) has been improving throughout Florida, with Pinellas experiencing the best overall improvement when compared to other similarly-sized counties and the state. In 2009-10, Pinellas equaled the state average for the first time after a number of years of being notably higher.
- Family Service Center (FSC) – Youth Intervention Services (formerly Juvenile Offender Services)
- Pinellas Emergency Mental Health Services (PEMHS) – Detention Coordination Services
- State Attorney’s Office
Read More About It:
Florida Department of Juvenile Justice: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/Research/Delinquency_Profile/index.html
The Annie E. Casey Foundation: http://www.aecf.org/Home/OurWork/JuvenileJustice/JuvenileJusticeOverview.aspx
Pinellas County Community Indicators Juvenile Justice Information: http://www.pinellasindicators.org/justice.htm
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention:http://www.ojjdp.gov/