Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Group will study juvenile justice reforms in Hillsborough

TAMPA — A new Hillsborough County task force will seek to develop alternatives to locking up juvenile offenders who commit minor offenses.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner won approval Wednesday for creating the task force, something he has been working on for more than a year, on a 5-1 vote.

Commissioner Jim Norman voted against the proposal and Al Higginbotham was out of the room during the vote.

Beckner said he has two main objectives for the task force.

The first priority is finding better ways of dealing with 70 percent or so of children arrested for doing what he calls "something stupid."

His aim, he said, is to figure out what is causing those children to misbehave and address it so they don't develop into problem citizens.

He said the issue is of particular concern in the black community, whose children make up about half of those arrested.

Second, Beckner said he hopes to save the county money by keeping children out of the system.

"We will make absolutely certain that there is no compromise to public safety," said Beckner, who assembled law enforcement officials to bless his effort.

The task force initially will include 17 people, mostly from law enforcement, the courts or local government, as well as Beckner.

But it also will have representatives of three groups that focus on issues of importance to the black community, including the NAACP, in recognition of disproportionate representation of black children in the criminal justice system.

The makeup could change as the task force's work progresses, and could soon include someone representing Hispanic interests.

Beckner also said several satellite advisory panels will be formed to contribute to discussions and that the task force will aggressively seek public input.

While he has said he has no preconceptions, he has studied Miami-Dade, which has a model diversion program.

Records show that the state Department of Juvenile Justice, which oversees youth detention centers, charges counties about $280 a day for each offender — about $8.4 million total last year in Hillsborough. Beckner said he is open to exploring whether Hillsborough could do it for less.

His task force proposal has run into opposition from some community activists, who say it tilts too heavily toward people who represent the criminal justice system.

Norman said he voted against the proposal because other commissioners did not get to recommend appointees.

Beckner said the task force will seek input from anyone, including former youth offenders.

He said he avoided directly including people who run programs for troubled children, fearing they might be seeking an inside track on future contracts.

"I wanted to keep … financial interests and self interests away from the task force," he said.

Bill Varian can be reached at (813) 226-3387 or varian@sptimes.com.

Group will study juvenile justice reforms in Hillsborough 03/03/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 3, 2010 11:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas licensing board needs cash. Will the county give it any?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– The grand jury that said Pinellas County should not take over the troubled construction licensing board also said the county should bail out the agency before it goes broke in 2018.

    Pinellas County Commission chair Janet Long isn't keen on the idea of the county loaning money to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board afloat. The county has no say over the independent agency, which could run out of funding in 2018. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. Is the Bundt cake back? How retro baked goods are becoming trendy again

    Cooking

    Once there were grunts and slumps, buckles and brown betties. Oh, and pandowdies and sonkers. In the olden days, people routinely made angel food cakes, tomato soup cakes and hummingbird cakes. These were not Duncan Hines mixes, but rather confections made from scratch following yellowed and stained recipes in your …

    Nothing Bundt Cakes in Tampa offers a variety of options, from tiny “bundtinis” and 10-inch cakes that serve 18 to 20 people. Core flavors include lemon, marble, red velvet and chocolate-chocolate chip, with featured flavors like confetti.
  3. What you need to know for Monday, Sept. 25

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Craig Butz, executive director of Pepin Academies and former professional hockey player, died in a crash with a boat Saturday. His daughter Teagan, 4, remained in critical condition Sunday afternoon. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   TIMES, 2013]
  4. Two boys in critical condition after Largo crash

    Accidents

    LARGO — A 7-year-old boy was thrown from a car in a head-on crash on Starkey Road, and both he and a 6-year-old boy were in critical condition Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  5. Trump's new order bars almost all travel from seven countries

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday issued a new order banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country.

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters Sunday upon his return to the White House in Washington.