DJJ Report: Youth Arrests Down - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

DJJ Report: Youth Arrests Down

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Bay County, Fla. -

Numbers released this week by the Department of Juvenile Justice suggest young people are committing fewer crimes; there was a 23 percent decrease in youths arrested from 2007.

A majority of the arrest fell under the misdemeanor category. The report also includes the number of civil citations handed out. Officers are using this option in other parts of the state as an alternative to arresting youths who commit minor crimes.

"People are overwhelmingly supportive of the direction that we're going." Secretary Wansley Walters says.

Locally, Bay County's numbers fluctuated, but there's still a downward tick in arrests. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Uniform Crime Report, the most arrests occurred in 2002, while the lowest was had in 2010.

So does that mean that fewer crimes are taking place or is it a matter of semantics? Panama City's Community Development Director, Michael Johnson says he doesn't know if the numbers are a true indicator that crime has decreased.

For some organizations who are vested in the juvenile's future, they say the numbers are irrelevant.

"Every case is about that kid and I'm not paid by the numbers on the back end. We're concentrated on that one case. That's the one that is important to us. There no way you can account for why the numbers go up and down, there may be some indicators but they've always done that." Randy Jordan says.  

Jordan helps run the Bay County's Teen Court; the program was designed as an alternative to juvenile court. The court mainly sees offenders between the ages of 12 who admit guilt to misdemeanor crimes. Those crimes are later expunged from the child's record.

"DJJ did a study on our particular kids in 2006 that showed 0% recidivism. I can not do better than 0% recidivism. That is their numbers not mine, but nonetheless that's what it says." Jordan says.

News 13 contacted the local DJJ office for comment, and they weren't reached in time for broadcast.