DECEMBER 22, 2010
Florida Tax-Watch, Southern Poverty Law Center applaud Scott's transition team
recs on juvenile justice
Florida TaxWatch CEO Dominic Calabro says implementing some of the recommendations made by Rick Scott's
transition team on juvenile justice will save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. Specifically, Calabro's organization
and the Southern Poverty Law Center want Florida legislators to agree to the suggestion not to incarcerate juveniles
guilty of misdemeanors, saying it could save $30 million annually. But what about lawmakers who want to make sure
voters see them as "tough on crime?" The SPL's Vanessa Carroll says this: "The research shows that when you put
those children into residential facilities they're going to be more likely to reoffend. So that's actually not helping
public safety." As it is now, 70 percent of the juveniles behind bars are there for nonviolent crimes, and 44 percent
are there for misdemeanors and probation violation.
Calabro, whose organization was represented on Scott's law and order transition team group, said that given the
state's budget crisis, he expects lawmakers this session will be more open to ideas for saving money in the criminal
As to the transition team's proposal to merge the departments of Juvenile Justice and Children and Families, one of
many organizational mergers contemplated by Scott, Calabro gives that a thumbs up, even though he acknowledges
the logistics of such consolidations can be problematic. “Historically, the juice has not been worth the squeeze. You
usually end up with more costs. But in this case, because of the nature of this governor, because of his orientation,
becuase of his commitment, I think you will see substantial cost reductions. I actually applaud him for thinking like
that," he said.
Scott transition team recommends combining Department of Juvenile Justice
A report released today by Gov.-elect Rick Scott's law and order transition team recommends combining the
Department of Juvenile Justice with the Department of Children and Families. That wouldn't happen, though, for at
least two years. First, the committee recomends, juvenile justice needs to be re-organized to mimic the
organizational structure of DCF, with a "more community-based juvenile justice approach" that has the "capacity to
address the serious offender population." Otherwise, the committee concluded, "DJJ would overwhelm and
potentially affect the progress of DCF in a negative way."
The committee also recommends saving money by expanding the civil citation program for first- and some second-
time misdemeanor offenders. And those who guilty of misdemeanor crimes should not be put in residential programs,
the committee suggests. Instead, they should remain at home with electronic monitoring.
Other recommendations: Reduce or eliminate state juvenile residential facilities; expand Juvenile Assessment
Centers; reorganize the department so detention, probation, prevention and residential services report to a
single assistant secretary for operations.