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After Reports Of Violence, Low Pay, Wretched Conditions, Scott Signs Juvenile Justice Reforms

Emily Michot
Miami Herald
The front entrance of the Palm Beach Youth Academy in West Palm Beach, formerly the Palm Beach Juvenile Correctional Facility.

For the first time in a decade, Florida juvenile detention and probation officers will see a bump in their salaries — an increase in the state budget that is part of a series of juvenile justice reforms passed by the Legislature this month.

The 10 percent, across-the-board pay raise for lockup and probation officers was included in the Department of Juvenile Justice’s $589.4 million 2019 spending plan, which was signed by Gov. Rick Scott last week. The pay raise was the signature item in a handful of budget requests by DJJ following a Miami Herald investigation, called Fight Club, into agency failures. The budget includes $2 million in “retention bonuses” for direct-care staffers at privately run juvenile programs, where the pay can start under $20,000, in addition to the raises for state employees.

State Sen. Jeff Brandes, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, and shepherded the budget items and legislation, said efforts to reform the state’s juvenile justice system will take at least a couple of lawmaking cycles, especially given the financial constraints of this year’s session, which was shattered by the Valentine’s Day massacre on the campus of a Parkland high school.

Read more at our news partner, the Miami Herald.

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