Make us your home page
Letters to the Editor

Department of Juvenile Justice helps kids get their lives back on track

Youth Success Week

Helping kids get their lives back on track

This year you may have noticed that we have changed the title of our agency's annual efforts from "Juvenile Justice Week" to the "Department of Juvenile Justice Youth Success Week" (April 19-25). This is because we want to emphasize a point that is often lost amid the shocking stories that usually make it into the news, and that is the good news that our kids are overwhelmingly successful in turning their lives around.

Here are a few facts that you may not know. According to the Department of Juvenile Justice Office of Research and Planning data for fiscal year 2007-2008:

• The juvenile arrest rate is at an all-time low, and delinquency in Florida continues to decline. This is despite the steady increase of the juvenile population in our state.

• The 93 percent of at-risk youth who attend prevention programs are successful in staying out of the juvenile justice system.

• Since 2005, the number of youth assigned to residential commitment programs for comprehensive treatment has dropped 26 percent.

The private and nonprofit programs that provide services to our children, helping them turn their lives around, have endured reductions of funding along with the rest of Florida — and indeed, our nation — over the past couple of years. We recognize that although our agency has been relatively successful at minimizing the impact to our children, the fact is that we need the active participation of our communities to bolster efforts to support their success.

Please join us in Tallahassee for our key event Wednesday at 10 a.m., as your Florida DJJ celebrates "Youth Success Week." This event, which will be held on the front steps of the Old Capitol, will feature several youth from across the state telling their compelling stories of tragedy-turned-around, thanks to a state juvenile justice system that values and balances its continuum of services. For more information on DJJ's "Youth Success Week," please visit

Frank Peterman Jr., secretary, Department of Juvenile Justice, Tallahassee

Is Florida ready for a new kind of insurance? April 16, Howard Troxler column

Deregulation isn't the answer

Stop the press! Howard Troxler wants to call the insurance industry's bluff. What bluff? The insurance industry wants deregulation because they want to charge more.

You are correct about improving the insurance mess, but deregulation is not the answer. The insurance industry loves deregulation because they make the rules: charge whatever they want or threaten to drop your coverage. They wanted a 41 percent increase a few months ago with no additional coverage. Does Troxler agree with that?

The only answer is keep it regulated and take all the insurance coverage: property, car, etc. Have we not learned from what the insurance industry has done to us in the past? Allstate would not even answer a question until they were subpoened by a judge! If the insurance industry wants to leave Florida, let them go. Three cheers for Gov. Charlie Crist. He is the only one standing up, and, by the way, they want to get rid of him too!

Jack Murray, Clearwater

Is Florida ready for a new kind of insurance? April 16, Howard Troxler column

We need more choices

This is about the most sensible thing I've read about homeowner's insurance in the state of Florida. The free market determining the price for homeowner policies is really novel with our current government policy of sticking its nose into every facet of our lives. How refreshing!

If a company raises its premium so high it is perceived as a poor value, the company will lose business until it improves its product or reduces its price.

Indiana, where I come from, had "file and use" rate structure, and insurance companies could hardly wait to open shop. None of the big property insurers have much presence in Florida. There are too many other markets with a better chance to make a profit. Yes, insurance companies are not social service organizations; they are "for profit." We need more companies and therefore more choices.

Carl E. Simon, Largo

Why is this gun legal? | April 11, editorial

A deadlier device

A recent editorial was topped by a large picture of an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. The meat of the editorial was simple. These types of guns should be made illegal.

What brought on the editorial was the recent death of a young girl shot in her home as the result of a drive-by shooting.

Days later, not one but four youths were killed in a car crash. Why was there no editorial topped by a picture of an automobile advocating the illegality of cars? After all death by cars far exceed deaths by guns. And, by the way, I am a life member of the NRA.

Norman S. Cannella Sr., Tampa

Insane gun culture | April 15

It's not the guns

Cynthia Tucker sees the phenomena of crime and murder as a hardware problem, apparently thinking that guns jump off of tables and fire themselves. If she is so focused on what our country is going to look like a hundred years from now, it would be better if she contemplated a future where only government agents are allowed to own guns. We have had such precedents, namely the Soviet Union and various right- and left-wing dictatorships.

Of course we are all disturbed by the fact that someone would take any weapon — bomb, poison, gas, fire or whatever — and use it to kill innocent people. If you deconstruct her argument you will find a typical gun hater who is only concerned when a gun is used.

For Mexico, Chicago, or Washington to blame the "gun culture" that flourishes in America's small towns and rural areas for their crime problems is like a 300-pound man blaming neighbors' eating habits for his obesity. The problem is not our "gun culture" but the crime and gang culture.

Leonard Martino, Tampa

Our insane gun culture | April 15, Cynthia Tucker column

Stop the madness

Cynthia Tucker recalls the gun-related murders of more than 50 people, including a toddler of 18 months, during March and April, a period of less than two full months. She calls the killers insane, crazed, mad — and suggests that the description also fits a nation that approves of civilian gun possession.

Right on, Ms. Tucker. There is no reason for any others than police and the military to possess guns of any sort. Guns are made for killing. They should be outlawed. Then, perhaps, we Americans can claim to be a civilized nation.

Joseph H. Francis, St. Petersburg

Lawmakers short on courage, vision April 9, editorial

Cigar workers at risk

I understand that our elected officials need to look at every option to plug the gap in Florida's budget. But I was appalled by your statement that "Gov. Charlie Crist is 'needlessly' concerned about the (proposed tobacco) tax's impact on the cigar industry," which appeared in your April 9 editorial.

You may think that the potential loss of the state's 5,500 cigar industry-related jobs is a "needless" concern — but I don't, and neither do my employees whose jobs are seriously at risk because of the pending cigar tax.

While we in the cigar industry are challenged like everyone else by the severe recession, the 700 percent federal excise tax increase that Congress just imposed on the cigar industry has forced us to raise the prices of our Ybor City factory cigars by 33 percent. Nor is it surprising that we are already experiencing a steep drop in sales. Any further tax the state would pile on would push us over the edge.

Florida's unemployment rate is already close to 10 percent. Do you really think that taxing one of Florida's oldest home industries out of business is the answer to our state's economic woes?

Eric Newman, president, J.C. Newman Cigar Co., Tampa

Department of Juvenile Justice helps kids get their lives back on track 04/19/09 [Last modified: Sunday, April 19, 2009 6:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours