Secretary Walter McNeil of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) announced today the appointment of a 25-member “Blueprint Commission” to develop a plan that will reform Florida’s juvenile justice system. The Commission, comprised of community leaders, juvenile justice stakeholders and policy experts, has been developed in response to several key concerns. Juvenile recidivism, the overrepresentation of minority youths, and alarming trends involving girls—who comprise the fastest-growing segment of the juvenile justice population—are some of the issues Florida’s juvenile justice system currently faces. The Commission is chaired by Florida Atlantic University President and former Lieutenant Governor Frank Brogan. State and national juvenile justice expert and author Dr. LaWanda Ravoira is commission vice chair.

“Together with the Blueprint Commission, the Department of Juvenile Justice is taking an important step forward in reforming our juvenile justice system. The members of the Commission are committed to providing the groundwork necessary to make improvements to our system that will have a direct and positive impact on youths,” said Secretary McNeil. “We recognize that the success of our efforts depends upon public input and the participation of stakeholders from the local community who can best identify areas for change.”

The Blueprint Commission on Juvenile Justice will conduct public hearings throughout the state and invite input from stakeholders from all aspects of juvenile justice programs and services, and from citizens. The meetings will feature state and national research experts on juvenile justice trends and best practices; seek presentations from local community leaders, groups and other stakeholders; and include an evening town hall meeting format where citizens can also provide comment.

The following dates and cities are set for the Blueprint Commission’s public hearings: September 4-5, Ft. Lauderdale; September 25-26, Jacksonville; October 4-5, Orlando; October 17-18, Ft. Myers; October 29-30, Tampa; November 6-7, Pensacola. Meeting locations for those cities will be announced soon and will be easily accessible to the public.

At the conclusion of the meetings, the Commission will provide a full report of recommendations to Governor Charlie Crist and the Florida Legislature. This report will drive future decisions on systemic improvements to the juvenile justice system.

“Every child in this state is an opportunity,” said Chairman Brogan. “With the formation of the Blueprint Commission, Florida is voicing the need for greater accountability in providing these youths the chance to make meaningful contributions to our society and communities.”

The department is partnering with several prominent philanthropic foundations that are committed to systemic reform in juvenile justice. The JEHT Foundation, a national philanthropic organization based in New York, NY, has joined with the Jessie Ball duPont Fund (Jacksonville, FL) and the Eckerd Family Foundation (Clearwater, FL) to support the Blueprint initiative. This effort is JEHT’s groundbreaking entry into juvenile justice reform in Florida. All three foundations have a long history of supporting programs that balance public safety with successful intervention and treatment focused on turning around the lives of troubled youth.

Three other key partners of the Blueprint Commission and DJJ are the Children’s Campaign, Inc., the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services and the Florida Juvenile Justice Association (FJJA). The Network and FJJA collectively represent the largest number of the Department’s contract service providers. The Children’s Campaign is a non-partisan, statewide children’s advocacy organization that does not accept government funding. Its president, Roy Miller, is serving as a strategic advisor to the Blueprint Commission.

“These organizations have offered their assistance with the belief that improvements to Florida’s juvenile justice system will not only improve the lives of all Floridians, but also ensure the state’s continued economic development,” said Secretary McNeil. “The Children’s Campaign has demonstrated both vision and dedication as an advocacy leader, and we are pleased to have Roy Miller’s involvement in this groundbreaking initiative.”

Members of the Blueprint Commission include leaders in community, faith, diversity and business organizations; law enforcement and criminal justice officials; educators; and former youths in Florida’s juvenile justice system.

Blueprint Commission Members:

Frank T. Brogan (Chair) – President, Florida Atlantic University and former lieutenant governor of Florida

LaWanda Ravoira (Vice-Chair) – State and national expert on juvenile justice issues, former president and chief executive officer of PACE Center for Girls, Inc.

Alex Arnold – DHL employee, youth representative

Marlon Brown – Gadsden County Manager

Donna Callaway – Retired principal and member of the state Board of Education

Carol H. Carlan – President of Wachovia Bank in Pensacola

Barbara Cheives – President of Converge and Associates Consulting, specializing in race and ethnic relations and cultural competency training

Sheriff Robert L. “Bob” Crowder – Martin County Sheriff

Richard D. Danford Jr., Ph.D. – President of the Jacksonville Urban League

Julio Fuentes – Founder, President and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Chief G. Matthew Immler – Chief of Police for the City of Boynton Beach

Barry E. Krischer – State Attorney for Florida’s 15th Judicial Circuit

Dale Landry – Chair, Criminal and Juvenile Committee of the Florida Conference of the NAACP

Judge Lester Langer – Associate Administrative Judge, Juvenile Division, 11th Judicial Circuit

Carlos J. Martinez – Chief Assistant Public Defender, 11th Judicial Circuit

Sidney W. Morgan – West Florida Region Market President, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida

Danielle Morron – Tax Accountant, Wealth and Tax Advisory Services of West Palm Beach; youth representative

Mary Sue Neves – Superintendent of the Calhoun County School District

Leon Russell – Director of the Office of Human Rights for Pinellas County

Bill Sublette – Orlando attorney, former member of the Florida House of Representatives and key architect of the creation of the DJJ in 1994

Judge Irene Sullivan – Unified Family Court Judge, 6th Judicial Circuit

Dr. Rajiv Tandon, MD – Chief of Psychiatry in the Program of Mental Health, Florida Department of Children and Families

Dr. David L. Thomas, MD, JD – Chair of the Department of Surgery, Nova Southeastern University

Steven Thompson – City Manager for the City of Deltona

Rev. John F. White – Senior Pastor, Mount Hermon African Methodist Episcopal Church in Ft. Lauderdale