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Scott to name DJJ head today

by Dara Kam | December 31st, 2010

Gov.-elect Rick Scott will name Miami-Dade County Juvenile Services Department chief Wansley Walters as secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice, according to sources on his transition team.

Walters initiated a pilot diversion project in Miami-Dade in which juveniles receive civil citations for first offenses and has more than two decades experience working with children, substance abuse, diversion and mental health issues.

That program is considered a national model and was lauded by the White House two years ago.

Walters was Scott’s lead transition team member on juvenile justice.

Among the team’s recommendations was a statewide expansion of the civil citation program as an arrest alternative for juveniles who commit misdemeanor crimes.

Juveniles who receive the citations must perform community service and participate in intervention programs to avoid having an arrest record for their crimes.

More than 8,000 children in Miami-Dade, most of them black, have successfully completed the program and arrests have gone down by 21 percent, according to transition team documents.

The citation program is one of the recommendations to keep youth out of detention and reduce their chances of winding up in prison as adults.

Scott has said he supports programs that will keep juveniles out of lock-up as part of his plan to reduce recidivism and save money on prisons.

Walters replaces former secretary Frank Peterman, who came under fire for misusing state funds to pay for travel between Tallahassee and his home in St. Petersburg. Peterman, a former state representative who is a Democrat, was one of the few agency heads Scott asked to leave after he requested that others remain on the job for up to three months after he takes office on Tuesday.

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3 Responses to “Scott to name DJJ head today”

  1. TJ Says:

    Finally some progress being made in ridiculous drug offenses and a bigger push toward prevention and treatment. This is a no brainer, and its time to realize that imprisoning people, particularly minors for drug violations just exacerbates the situation. Hooray for new thinking.

  2. DJJ Counselor Says:

    I’ve been assigned as a substance abuse counselor for the DJJ for five years. The department under Scretary Peterman was a farce in that he believed in faith based program environments that don’t work. Under Ms Walters, giving citations for first-time misdemeanor offenders is a good idea as long as there is a consequence assigned with the citation. The Deparment in general needs to be revamped and operated more like a prison environment rather than a clubhouse. In five years I have seen well over 50% of the same kids return more than twice.

  3. stevej6x7 Says:

    I find these facts arresting.

    The Lord giveth
    and the government taketh away.
    Blessed be the name of the Lord.

    ISamuel 8:9-19

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