Juvenile Justice Division
The Juvenile Justice Division offers a broad-based spectrum of services to target and address the unique issues that perpetuate juvenile crime. The Division includes the Juvenile Assessment Center, the Juvenile Detention Center, and the Youth Services Prevention and Enforcement Center.
The Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) serves as a central location for law enforcement to bring all arrested, truant and runaway juveniles. Arrested juveniles are booked, processed, screened for drug and metal health issues, and assessed for their risk of being delinquent or dependent. The JAC operates on a 24-hour, seven day a week basis and serves as a central receiving point for all juveniles who have been arrested for delinquent offenses or detained on non-criminal violations in Seminole County (i.e. runaways/truants). The objectives of the JAC are to reduce the amount of time law enforcement officers must deal with offenders and to provide a secure environment where assessments may be are administered to determine how the juveniles will be referred into the criminal justice system (detained for prosecution, released with referral to social service agency,etc.).
The facility is staffed with Sheriff’s Office personnel as well as Juvenile Probation Officers from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, employees of Seminole County public schools, Boys and Girls Town employees who staff the Seminole Truancy Alternative for Youth (STAY) center, and counselors from Treatment Alternative for Safer Communities (TASC). This collaborative effort between several agencies ensures that juveniles arrested in Seminole County are not only quickly shown the consequences of their behavior, but also allows the opportunity to perform risk assessments.
The Sheriff’s Office also operates the Seminole County Juvenile Detention Center, a 56-bed, secure facility that serves pre-adjudicated youth detained in Seminole County. The Center was previously operated by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice until being closed in 2011 for budgetary reasons. The Center provides mental health, religious support and health care services. The youth in custody there are provided educational services by Seminole County Public Schools.
Located at the Youth Services Prevention and Enforcement Center, the Youth Intervention Services Unit provides community-based supervision for high-risk juvenile offenders on probation or conditional release. Offenders receive multiple, unannounced visits at any time at their home, work, school and within the community. Violations of probation or conditional release may result in an immediate arrest and require the juvenile to appear in court within 24 hours. In many cases, the root causes of a youth's behavior are complex and not easily rectified in a short time. By taking the time to provide the youth and families with long-term coping skills, the potential of future violations is greatly reduced.
High-risk juveniles under the supervision of the Youth Intervention Services Unit or high-risk offenders in the pre-adjudicatory state of the juvenile justice system may be placed on a GPS tracking system called EMPACT (Electronic Monitoring, Protection and Crime Tracking). The system records offender's movements and transmits them to the probation officer where they may be viewed on a map. Inclusion and exclusionary zones may be established. The recorded points are compared electronically on a daily basis to the reported crimes within the county.
Youth violating the terms of their probation or conditional release may be ordered by the Court or a juvenile probation officer to attend the Consequence Alternative Sanctions Unit (CASU) and/or the Sheriff’s Work Ethics and Training (Project S.W.E.A.T.) program. Youth in CASU receive traditional education and life skills training in a classroom and then perform supervised, meaningful,labor-intensive, community service within Seminole County. Project S.W.E.A.T. focuses on providing supervised community service activities on Saturdays. This provides the Court alternatives and latitude in the application of restorative justice.
The Youth Intervention Services Unit provides a variety of positive, diversionary programs to youth in Seminole County. The Eugene Gregory Memorial Youth Academy provides a spectrum of services to youth on conditional release who are returning to the community from a residential commitment program, or youth on probation who have been suspended or expelled from school. The Academy seeks to ensure public safety by removing high-risk youth from schools and the community, providing youth with a sense of accountability, developing competency and anger management skills, and teaching decision making skills. Services include traditional education in a classroom, life skills development, and on-site mental health assessments and counseling. Youth complete an average of 90 days in the Academy and must demonstrate an overall positive performance at school and home before being allowed to transition to a Seminole County public school.
SCSO also coordinates spring and summer Police Athletic League (PAL)
camps for area youth. Camps include activities ranging from sports to arts and crafts to theme park field trips. PAL offers a boxing program and partners with the Boys and Girls Club and the City of Sanford to offer a year round basketball league.
The Explorer Program
, designed to expose youths from the age of 14-20 to law enforcement, and the Cadet Program, which does the same for youth aged 12-14, is also offered through Youth Educational Services. Youth are taught the importance of community partnerships with law enforcement by participating in community service events throughout the county. They are also trained in aspects of law enforcement through guest speakers and training. Although the Cadets do not compete at the Explorer level, training is provided to prepare them for competition at a later time.
More information on SCSO’s juvenile programs can be found here.