Juvenile crime continues to decline across the Sunshine State, hitting the lowest levels in almost four and a half decades.
On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Secretary Simone Marstiller announced the number of juvenile arrests declined eight percent in Fiscal Year 2018-2019. Over the past five years, juvenile arrests have dropped 27 percent as Florida has seen the lowest juvenile arrest level in 44 years.
“The continued decline in juvenile arrests demonstrates our dedication to keeping Florida safe and keeping our young people out of the juvenile justice system through effective prevention and early intervention services,” said DeSantis. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement and community partners to uphold public safety and provide the services necessary to ensure all Florida youth are afforded the opportunity to be successful.”
Looking at the numbers, there has been a drop of five percent in overall juvenile felony arrests, including a 15 percent drop in murder/manslaughter arrests, a 17 percent decrease in burglary arrests and a 12 percent decrease in auto theft arrests. Juvenile misdemeanor offenses are also on the decline, dropping 12 percent in the last fiscal year.
The governor’s office gave some credit to outreach and services targeting potential juvenile delinquents.
“In recent years, the reform efforts of Florida’s juvenile justice system have focused heavily on early intervention and prevention services in addition to providing enhanced services to those youth who find themselves in the deeper end of the juvenile justice system,” the governor’s office noted.
While happy with the news, Marstiller insisted that there was still work to do.
“With the continued support of Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature, DJJ will continue to allocate its resources into preventing and diverting youth away from our juvenile justice system while investing in services that meet a youth’s behavioral and mental health needs,” said Marstiller. “This decrease in juvenile arrests is encouraging, and we remain committed to providing the best outcomes for Florida’s youth while placing the safety of our communities at the forefront of everything we do.”
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