New Push to Help Juvenile Offenders

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Tallahassee, FL-
The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is pushing a proposed plan it says will help keep youthful offenders out of jail and revamp the juvenile justice system.

In its first of eight town hall-style meeting planned across the state, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice unveiled its proposed plan, which focuses on proactive efforts such as civil citations and home therapy to help provided services to troubled youths early and keep them out of the system.

"What we want to do is ensure that we have a system that is fully equipped to deal with children, where they are, giving them the right service at the right time," says Secretary Wansley Walters, of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.

But the plan is not without its critics. Some worry about the number of young people in Florida who are tried and convicted as adults. A problem they say is not addressed in the proposal.

"If you're an African-American child in particular, you're two and a half to five and a half times more likely to go to a state adult system than other kids. Why is that?," says Frank Alacon who attended the meeting.

The DJJ says it is using these town hall system meetings to gain feedback from the public on its plan. The next meeting is November 27 in Gainesville.

Tallahassee, FL - There's a new push tonight to help keep kids out of jail, and Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) wants your feedback.

DJJ is kicking off the first of eight town hall meetings.

When many people think of Florida's DJJ, they still think of the death of teenager Martin Lee Anderson at a Bay County boot camp.

The story made national headlines when it broke in 2006.

14 year old Anderson was beaten to death by guards at the bootcamp run by DJJ.

The camp was shutdown and Anderson's parents won a five million dollar settlement from the state. WCTV did an interview with Anderson's mother, Gina Jones, back in 2010, talking about what happened to her son.

Gina Jones: "he had no reason to be beaten like that. I don't know if you all know, he wasn't even in there three hours. That was his first day. We buried him the day before his 15th birthday."

DJJ says this series of meetings is not directly related to any specific case, but they do want to improve the system.

DJJ is going to lay out proposals for reform to the public and take in feedback.

Those proposals include at home therapy, and civil citations for some offenses, before children get too deep into the system.

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