Delinquency Down in FL Schools, But, Minorities, Disabled Arrested the Most

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice says juvenile delinquency on school grounds has gone down by roughly half in the last eight years.

But, the bad news, many say, is the study shows minority and disabled students continue to get arrested at more than double the rate of other kids.

Deborrah Brodsky, the director of FSU's Project on Accountable Justice, says, "This will be a hindrance to them as they're trying to seek employment throughout their lives, trying to get into schools, into the military, all of these things. This never goes away for a child. So, the best thing that we can do is to avoid contact with the system altogether."

The DJJ report says Florida youth arrested at school dropped by 48 percent.

Black youth, however, account for 47 percent of all school related arrests, although they represent 21 percent of youth aged 10 to 17.

Exceptional Student Education (ESE) students account for 29 percent of arrests on school grounds, although they represent 14 percent of the state's public school students.

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary is asking law enforcement to use alternatives such as ticketing offenders for minor crimes instead of arresting them. Leon County has been doing that for years, and deputies say it's been very effective.

LT Rory Robins with the Leon County Sheriff's Office says, "We're diverting the kids from the juvenile justice system. We do that in every opportunity that we can, not matter who it is."

LCSO says it issued 145 civil citations last year, with an 86 percent success rate.

Leon County was one of the sheriff's offices to do the pilot civil citation program. Deputies say student arrests dropped 54 percent last year.

LCSO says civil citations are given when its the student's first offense. The student has to admit that they did wrong, and the student and parent(s) must agree to the terms, which include counseling and community service.

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