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Tallahassee Democrat Letters to the Editor: DJJ will make changes in certain programs


Re: “Tweaks can make DJJ’s plan even better,” (Opinion, Nov. 29)

I am pleased that the Florida Juvenile Justice Association supports the Roadmap to System Excellence as we collaborate with stakeholders and the public to reform our state’s juvenile justice system.

However, I am obliged to set the record straight regarding the juvenile recidivism figures quoted by Cathy Craig-Myers, FJJA’s executive director.

Our most recent data shows that 26 percent of youth re-offended even while they participated in community-based intervention services (CBIS) provider programs. In state-run programs, 22 percent of youth re-offended.

The percentage of kids who re-offended within one year of completing a program was higher. For state-run programs it rose to 30 percent and for CBIS-provider programs it climbed to 36 percent.

Let me be clear: All of these numbers are disturbing and unacceptable. Our goal is to reduce recidivism, not perpetuate the status quo. We are proposing to retool privately provided CBIS services.

(The Tallahassee Democrat edited the letter Secretary Walters submitted, omitting the last sentence. It is included below.)

Our reforms will put Florida’s troubled youth on the path to a brighter future. That includes kids who, like the ones treated by CBIS, are in the deepest and riskiest end of the juvenile justice system.

Secretary, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice