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Florida’s Juvenile Justice Eliminating 1,200 Jobs and Closing 3 Youth Prisons

| May 31, 2011

But will the state lay off imprisoning them? (Minority News)

Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters is notifying employees at the agency of several job cuts and facility closures that will result from the budget signed into law Thursday by Gov. Rick Scott.

The budget will cut more than 1,200 jobs in the Department of Juvenile Justice, though about 500 of those are vacant, meaning about 700 current employees will see their jobs go away. The agency will close several facilities in about a month.

The North Florida Youth Development Center in Marianna, also known as the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys; the Hillsborough Juvenile Detention Center East in Tampa; the Osceola Juvenile Detention Center in Kissimmee; and the Seminole Juvenile Detention Center in Sanford will all close by June 30, Walters said in a memo sent to DJJ employees late Thursday.

A facility in DeSoto County will also close later in the summer. Walters reminded employees that the Legislature singled out certain facilities, including the ones in DeSoto, Osceola and Hillsborough counties, for closure, not agency officials.

“We will implement an orderly and well-managed transition plan for the closing of these facilities to meet the needs of the youth served by them, which will also involve the collaboration of our state operated and provider partners,” Walters said in the memo. “We will do everything possible to assist affected staff, who will also receive individual letters formally notifying them of the impact on their positions and explaining their options.

“The next several months will be highly challenging as we make the changes required by the budget,” Walters continued. “Doing more with less is a common challenge faced by all employers in this difficult economy. Please know that I am committed to implementing these changes – especially their effect on staff – with efficiency, sensitivity and without compromising our mission.”

Scott signed the state’s nearly $70 billion budget into law on Thursday, and vetoed more than $300 million in spending and another $300 million in spending authority in the budget.

The FY 2011-12 budget reduced spending on the Department of Juvenile Justice by $67 million, an 11 percent decrease from the current fiscal year.

Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, said the job cuts would hit harder in some areas than in others. Smaller cities like Marianna, home for more than 100 years to the Dozier School, will feel those job losses more than bigger cities like Tampa.

In the smaller communities, many of which rely on government employment, “what we have here is there are more jobs lost than there are jobs available,” Montford said. “We know that if you continue to cut the budgets you’re going to lose personnel.” He also said that while other jobs in government might be available, it’s sometimes not easy, because it would require a move across the state.

The decision at DJJ follows an announcement earlier in the week that the Department of Children and Families will cut about 500 filled jobs, more than half of which are at three state hospitals, one in Maclenny in northeast Florida, one in Chattahoochee northwest of Tallahassee and one in Gainesville.

–David Royce, News Service of Florida

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5 Responses for “Florida’s Juvenile Justice Eliminating 1,200 Jobs and Closing 3 Youth Prisons”

  1. Liana G says:

    The good….

    “IN the end, the state budget crisis did what advocacy alone couldn’t do for years. Close Dozier.

    More precisely, advocates resorted to budget manipulations when all other reason, facts, best practices, and arguments about protecting children from maltreatment and abuse fell short.

    For years, and especially the last three, The Children’s Campaign called for the closure of the North Florida Youth Development Center, a present day yet pathetic euphemism for the facility known better as the Dozier School for Boys. Sometimes others stood with us but there weren’t many who did consistently.”

  2. NortonSmitty says:

    How many of the closed prisons were state run and how many were privatized?

  3. Jack J. says:

    What nobody is mentioning is what is going to happen to these youth services? Does it mean over crowding at the locations that are still open. I don’t want to pay taxes anymore than anyone else but realize that we need these services to take care of our population.

  4. Liana G says:

    @ Jack J

    That’s the next battle. However, exposing children to all sorts of abuse and maltreatment does not make for better kids. Leniency from the courts would be a start.

    Why is it that America, with a population of 310 million, has the largest prison population of all other countries, including that of China (population 1.3 billion) and Inda (population 1.2 billion), the two most populous countries?

  5. d j says:

    well the old saying/ you get what you pay for. is the same as you get what you vote for. thanks to all the republicans.

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