The state of Florida has been actively working to reduce the incarceration rate for juveniles, who often end up in the penitentiary system because of abuse or negligence. They’re also far more likely to reintegrate with society as productive members if officials focus on rehabilitation instead of incarceration.
Florida has developed some alternatives to incarceration in the form of programs that identify and treat the abandonment, abuse and neglect issues that typically lead to youth delinquency. These programs also offer the support, guidance, nurturing and distraction necessary to divert these young people from preventable lives of crime. These programs may also help families address the problematic behaviors.
Part of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), the programs were first launched in 1992, and the goals, strategies and methods continue to be improved. One of the most successful programs is Healthy Families Florida, a diversion effort that provides home visitations to identify and prevent child neglect and abuse, a goal that has reportedly been achieved in 98 percent of the families served to date.
JDAI offers alternatives to incarceration, uses data to identify the problems and benefits of the current systems and expedites processing to ensure that no cases fall through the cracks or get mishandled. It also sets standards and protocols to improve conditions in youth detention centers and collaborates with judiciary systems and organizations to address youth needs more effectively.
The benefits of such programs are endless. They enhance public safety, reduce overcrowding in jails and prisons and save money. The cost to serve a family through Healthy Families Florida, for example, is just 2 percent of what it costs taxpayers to deal with individuals who have habitual contact with the criminal justice system later in life.
If your child has been arrested for a crime, speak with a Clearwater criminal defense attorney to learn more about alternatives to incarceration available for youth in Florida.