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Transition advisors say join DJJ with DCF

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.

-- Janet Zink