Florida's juvenile justice system must provide gender-specific programs for its growing number of girls and address the disproportionate presence of minorities, according to a report on the system released Tuesday.
Those were among 52 recommendations made by a panel, chaired by former Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan, charged with improving the Juvenile Justice Department.
Gov. Charlie Crist has proposed an extra $4.6-million for the department in the coming budget year based on the report. Of that, $2.6-million would go to gender-specific programs, such as gynecologist visits and, in some cases, prenatal care, Brogan said.
To address the disproportionate number of minorities in the system, Brogan said, the department needs to invest in community-based programs that help keep kids out of trouble. The trend of charging juveniles with misdemeanors for offenses that would have been dealt with by schools in the past also needs to be reversed, Brogan said. Law enforcement officers could issue civil citations for minor offenses to keep kids out of the system, he said.