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Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP)


The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) was selected as one of four states to participate in the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP), a national initiative to reform the juvenile justice system by translating "what works" into everyday practice and policy . Administered by Georgetown University's Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, the JJSIP provides a framework for implementing best practices throughout the entire juvenile justice system.

The Georgetown team will work with prominent criminologists to provide technical assistance to the state. The team will evaluate DJJ's services to ensure an adequate range of graduated sanctions with interventions designed to reduce the risk of committing future offenses. At the end of the initial18 month pilot period, Florida will have implemented the JJSIP fully in one county and begun to implement it statewide. Pinellas County has been selected as the demonstration site for the project.

In commenting on Florida's selection and the significance of the project, Shay Bilchik, the founder and director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University said, "We hope that implementing the JJSIP provides the field with more information on how to take research we have about effectively serving juvenile justice involved youth and apply it to improve outcomes for all youth who touch the system. This has been a key challenge facing our work and one we believe the JJSIP will help address.”

JJSIP is composed of two tiers (click on each tier for an overview): the Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders (including the Disposition Matrix) and the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP). The goal of the JJSIP project is to provide “the right service for the right kid, at the right time, in the right dosage”. Click here for a timeline of JJSIP milestones.

Click Here for an Overview PowerPoint Presentation of the JJSIP Initiative


JJSIP Achievements

As a direct result of the JJSIP, DJJ has

  • Fostered relationships in each pilot county between DJJ and a myriad of stakeholders including providers, the judiciary, and law enforcement. The JJSIP is not simply a DJJ project, but is a community initiative that involves collaboration and education between each stakeholder group. Enhanced collaboration and education improves service provision ensuring the optimal placement of youth and the optimal matching of youth to the best service for that youth and family unit.
  • Developed and began implementation of a structured decision-making tool, the Disposition Matrix, and guidelines for use of the tool across the state. The Disposition Matrix provides research-based guidelines to Juvenile Probation Officers for making recommendations to the Court. The intent of the Disposition Matrix is to ensure appropriate placement of youth in terms of restrictiveness level based upon the youth’s presenting offense and overall risk to re-offend classification from a validated assessment. As the Disposition Matrix is implemented, each judicial circuit develops a mechanism for override of the matrix suggestion. This review is conducted at a supervisory or an assistant chief level to ensure overrides are limited and vetted through local management.
  • Developed a data analysis strategy which tracks how actual dispositions fall within the Disposition Matrix guidelines by percent “above guidelines”, “below guidelines”, ”acceptable” (meaning within guidelines), and “optimal” (meaning least restrictive alternative not previously attempted within guidelines).  
  • Developed a policy by which all low risk to re-offend youth being considered for residential placement must be staff by the local DJJ team with DJJ Headquarters representatives. DJJ has reduced the percent of residential commitments that are low risk to re-offend youth by over 50% from the January 2011 to December 2011 period to the January 2012 to December 2012 period, without a subsequent increase in juvenile crime.
  • Developed a Continuum of Services Mapping strategy. Every county has been called upon to map the existing services from universal prevention through residential commitment and transition, and determine the target population of each service (ex. youth at-risk requiring probation services, youth on probation supervision, transition/re-entry youth, etc.). By mapping the currently available services DJJ and each local community has a unique opportunity to examine whether the appropriate amount of services are available for each targeted group of youth. Continuum Mapping furthermore identifies gaps in services that prevent optimal matching of youth to appropriate levels of service.
  • Creation of a “dosage” module in the Juvenile Justice Information System (JJIS). DJJ has developed the capability to collect data related to which intervention services each youth has received, and how much of that service in terms of contact hours and duration in days was provided. This dosage information is critical for determining whether youth are receiving optimal levels of service to reduce re-offending. Dosage information is a critical component of the SPEP assessment as part of the JJSIP.