In Florida, black kids make up 39 percent of imprisoned juveniles, although they only account for 21.5 percent of the state’s youth population, according to Department of Juvenile Justice data from 2009 through 2010.
Florida A&M University partnered with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice to build the Juvenile Justice Research Institute in response to minority over-representation in Florida's juvenile justice system.
The center, which opened Wednesday, focuses on researching minority over-representation while providing non-traditional juvenile justice services that address the needs of high-risk kids.
The Institute uses a model called the Situational Environmental Circumstances Pilot (SECP), which stresses the importance of individual development, academic achievement, job readiness and family and community support for at-risk children. SECP teaches kids about things like goal setting, effectively communicating and creating employability skills.
Minority over-representation in the juvenile justice system is a nationwide problem and exists when the proportion of minority kids in jail exceeds the proportion that minority groups represent in the general population.
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