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New Study Finds Youth Less Likely to Re-Offend with Systems Improvement Tool


June 25, 2014


Florida Department of Juvenile Justice               
Heather DiGiacomo heather.digiacomo@djj.state.fl.us                                          

(850) 717-2710



New Study Finds Youth Less Likely to Re-Offend with Systems Improvement Tool

Youth are significantly more successful when receiving the most appropriate disposition or placement from court officials

Tallahassee, Fla. – A new study released today by Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) shows that youth are two times less likely to re-offend when receiving dispositions made using the Disposition Matrix than when receiving dispositions made without it.  The Disposition Matrix is a decision making tool used by the State’s juvenile probation officers to recommend placement options including: diversion, community supervision or residential commitment for youth in court. The study’s finding held true across genders, race and ethnicity as well as all risk levels of youth.

The study evaluated the re-offense rate of 38,117 youth in Fla. from 2010 to 2011. More often, youth with a low risk to re-offend were placed within the suggested range of the matrix while youth with a high risk to re-offend were the least likely to receive placement within the suggested guidelines. When placed outside of matrix suggestions, low risk youth have a re-offense rate of over 28%. High risk youth have a re-offense rate of over 55%. This rate is higher than that of high risk youth placed within suggestions. High risk youth with minor offenses who are placed in diversion have the highest re-offense rate of any youth in any placement.

“The validation of this tool means that DJJ will be able to better serve youth who come to our care,” said DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters. “Working with our community partners to ensure that youth are receiving placements where they can be the most successful is a win-win; youth receive the services and supervision they need and Florida’s communities are safer because of it”.

The study also shows that males placed above the suggested guidelines have a re-offense rate 67% higher than those placed in optimum placements; females placed above the guidelines had a 43% higher rate. For those placed below guidelines, males had a re-offense rate 148% higher than those placed in optimum placements; females had a 304% higher rates.

The Disposition Matrix was developed and implemented in conjunction with Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform as part of the Juvenile Justice Systems Improvement Project – a project designed to help states improve outcomes for juvenile offenders. The Matrix includes three key points: low risk offenders should remain in the community with minimal supervision; moderate risk offenders should typically be placed in more structured community programs, with intensive supervision for higher risk youth; and that residential commitment should be reserved for the highest risk offenders after community-based alternatives have been exhausted.

“What the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has accomplished in creating and implementing their Dispositional Matrix is at the cutting edge of juvenile justice practice in this country,” said Shay Bilchik, Director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform. “The use of this tool will ensure that the DJJ, the courts and their community partners will maximize the benefit of a youth’s involvement in the juvenile justice system in Florida.”

For a copy of the study , please visit: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/research2/the-fdjj-disposition-matrix-validation-study.pdf?sfvrsn=0