Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Christina K. Daly came out swinging against the Miami Herald Monday, saying the Fight Club investigation that uncovered the use of excessive force and other misconduct by agency staff involved “isolated events” that “will not overshadow” the accomplishments she and others have made.
“I’m not here to deny, defend or diminish any of the tragic incidents that have been highlighted, but I am here to give you the whole story,” Daly told the Senate Criminal Justice Committee before she presented a 25-minute slide show outlining reforms she said the agency has worked on for the past decade when Daly was chief of staff and then deputy secretary, before being named secretary by Gov. Rick Scott.
“I will not let a newspaper series overshadow the accomplishments we’ve made,” she said. “I cannot, and will not, let an article overshadow the thousands of dedicated staff who come to work every single day with a positive attitude, knowing they will change the lives of the children we serve.”
Daly said the reforms have contributed to Florida having the lowest juvenile arrest record in 40 years and the lowest frequency of youth offenders returning to prison in recent history. The agency’s screening, assessment, and diversion programs are considered a model for the nation, she said.
DJJ is “the most transparent it has ever been,” she said, and it’s focused on reforms that put the most resources into the most difficult cases. She showed slides of children’s rooms with colorful bedspreads that replaced drab institutional rooms, and offender uniforms of khakis and polo shirts that replaced orange jumpsuits. Story here.