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About Us

The Miami-Dade Juvenile Services Department (JSD), formerly known as the Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC). Since it first opened in October 1997, the facility has served as a centralized processing, referral, and evaluation center for all juveniles arrested in Miami-Dade County serving over 130,000 youth and their families. The Department allows representatives from law enforcement, social services, education and mental health to work in a cohesive partnership in order to provide a complete array of services needed in the initial phases of the child’s involvement with the criminal justice system.

The JSD operates with an active partnership of juvenile justice stakeholders. JSD partners include various local stakeholders: Juvenile Court judges, Clerk of Courts, State Attorney’s Office, Department of Juvenile Justice, Miami Dade Public Schools, County departments, law enforcement, Public Defender’s Office, and a multitude of private providers and community based organizations. The Department also works with colleges and universities as well as state and federal agencies.

The Juvenile Assessment Center’s portion of the JSD is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to accept arrested juveniles. The JAC is charged with managing the entire process for arrested juveniles for Miami-Dade County. This includes providing the infrastructure for all juvenile justice stakeholders to comply with their respective mandates/requirements and to perform their respective duties; providing daily coordination for juvenile justice system compliance between stakeholders; processing 100% of the arrested juvenile population brought to the JAC according to law; utilizing JAC data systems to organize the arrest population, and applying "best practices" to strategically reduce the number of children processed at the JAC. The JAC must process arrested juveniles in strict compliance with requirements mandated by Florida State Statutes.

The JSD concept allows representatives from law enforcement and social services to work together under one roof to provide a complete range of services and programs at the initial stages of the juvenile’s involvement with the Juvenile Justice System. This has proven to be an efficient model of processing that has allowed the State of Florida and local communities to achieve system and fiscal efficiencies. The delivery mechanism used to provide JSD/JAC services and programs is achieved through four major components: The Intake and Screening Component, the Diversion Services Continuum, the Prevention Continuum, and the Clinical Unit.

The Intake and Screening component is responsible for the intake and triaging of arrested youth delivered to the JAC for screening and intake processing; the diversion services continuum offers graduated interventions based on the psychosocial assessment, the age of the youth, the alleged offense and its impact on the victim or community, and the youth’s history within the system; the prevention continuum was developed to identify and address the issues of the at-risk population to prevent their entrance into the juvenile justice system through the use of empirically based screening and assessment tools designed and administered in an appropriate manner; and the clinical unit is managed by License and Masters level clinicians who provide clinical reviews for assessments conducted by staff. This unit assists in providing appropriate interventions for children in crisis and provides clinical assistance when dealing with youth exhibiting severe mental health and substance abuse issues.

The Miami-Dade Juvenile Services Department (JSD) proposed a demonstration project and received funding from the United States Congress that partnered researchers and operational staff in the reform of an active, functioning system. The principal researchers on this project are Dr. Richard Dembo and Dr. Maxine Thurston. As result of this project, we have been able to achieve world-wide recognition.

Accomplishments

See the accomplishments of the Department of Juvenile Services.

History

In the mid 1990’s, the arrest process for juveniles in Miami-Dade County, Florida was so dysfunctional that organized crime was using juveniles as its labor force and coaching them on how to “trick” the system. Learn more about the department.

Juvenile Justice Partners

Learn more about the Department of Juvenile Services partnerships.

Volunteers and Internships

The Miami-Dade Juvenile Services Department serves as a valuable training ground for Social Work, Psychology, Public Administration, Public Policy, Statistics, and Education interns from local and out of town colleges and universities.

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