TALLAHASSEE - The Department of Juvenile Justice can save money and reduce repeat offenders if it makes better use of programs that are alternatives to detention, according to a report released Wednesday.
The National Council on Crime and Delinquency lists several areas for improvement at the department, including the need for more local input on youth placement, more placement options, better aftercare programs, a stronger focus on prevention and better planning for the future.
But the department said the report is based on recommendations it has already received and is acting on.
"We've heard all this," said Interim Secretary C. George Denman. "We are in fact doing most of these things already. It does support the activities and the direction we're taking."
The study was based heavily on several previous reports conducted by the Legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability and didn't specifically examine department facilities.
"Rather than designing research-based programs and requesting budget support, many programs in Florida are developed in response to ongoing budget situations," the report said. "DJJ possesses a sophisticated research capacity and potential, but this capacity is not being fully utilized for program planning or to improve operations."
As well as prevention, it said the state should develop better services for youths leaving detention centers and home-based programs that could be used instead of detention in some cases.