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Bay News 9: Juvenile justice town hall meeting set for Tuesday


By Trevor Pettiford

TAMPA --  As more children make headlines for crimes they have committed, there is a growing push to change Florida's juvenile justice system.

A town hall is being held today in Tampa to outline some ideas about what can be done.

The public is invited to offer their own ideas about the growing issue of juveniles in serious trouble, evidenced by teens like Jared Cano, who has pleaded no contest to charges of plotting to blow up a New Tampa high school.

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters said trying to determine the needs of juveniles whose cases aren't headline grabbers is why the system needs reform.

"What we're trying to do with our reforms is ensure that the right service goes to the right child at the right time," Walters said. "And what that means, is going to be less resources spent on some children, but a great deal more spent on other children who are exhibiting extreme criminal behavior or violent behavior."

The town hall meeting, scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m., will be held at the University Area Community Development Center at 14013 North 22nd Street in Tampa.

Walters said the objective is clear.

"It allows us to allocate our resources and really work with kids, where they need to be preventing them from going any deeper in the system or getting rearrested," Walters said.