Last week, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) announced that it has joined with other Florida Youth Justice Commission partners to launch the Florida Race Equity Challenge.
The Florida Race Equity Challenge is a web-based, interactive experience that will provide juvenile justice stakeholders with the education and tools to identify and tackle issues related to race, equity, and inclusion (REI) within the juvenile justice system.
Over the course of several months, teams will participate in live webinars, complete tasks, and ultimately submit proposals for systematic changes designed to create more equitable outcomes for youth. Topics to be covered include implicit bias, assessing race equity in policies, and utilizing data in decision making. Teams include representatives from Florida’s schools, courts, law enforcement, community partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“Florida’s juvenile justice system has implemented significant reforms designed to better match youth with services and to prevent them from moving deeper into the system while still holding them accountable for their actions. While we’ve seen a downward trend in juvenile arrests across the state, we haven’t seen a similar trend in the overrepresentation of youth of color in the juvenile justice system,” said DJJ Sec. Simone Marstiller. “We have an obligation, as a system and community, to come together to address this important issue and affect meaningful change.”
The Florida Youth Justice Commission is a partnership established to promote continuous juvenile justice system improvement using the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) strategies. One of these strategies is improving racial and ethnic equity with a focus on eliminating bias and creating a level playing field for youth of color. Along with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, other Florida Youth Justice Commission partners include the Department of Children and Families, Florida Association of District School Superintendents, the Office of State Courts Administrator, Guardian Ad Litem, members of law enforcement, prosecutors and defense attorneys. DJJ staff help to coordinate the efforts of the commission both at the local and state level and created the concept and programming for the Florida Race Equity Challenge.