PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Department of Juvenile Justice is proposing to make changes to the Detention Risk Assessment Instrument, a scorecard that initially determines whether a youth is detained prior to appearing before the court.
Law enforcement agencies have asked department heads to look at the tool and update the system, which has hasn’t changed in nearly three decades.
Officials believe this would help crack down on teen car thefts.
“The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice will convene a meeting of the 2017 Detention Risk Assessment Instrument Committee to evaluate proposed revisions to the Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI). Based on the latest data and research, the proposed DRAI focuses on detaining those youth who pose the highest risk to public safety and continues the work we are doing to transform our juvenile justice system through innovative and aggressive reform,” said Secretary Christina K. Daly
Toby Anderson is back at work and working through the pain, after he was struck by four teens in a stolen vehicle in St. Petersburg, nearly two weeks ago.
“I still have a broken hand and my back. I have a pulled muscle in my back.”
Police said one of the teens involved also stole a car last year.
It’s a cycle that continues to repeat itself in Pinellas County.
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is participating in the revision of the DRAI.
“The current Department of Juvenile Justice scoring instrument has not been updated in the last 30 years and I look forward to helping revise the instrument to better reflect current crime trends and have better results,” the sheriff said in a statement.
Teens have died in several car theft crashes over the last year.
In majority of the cases, some of the teens were repeat offenders.
“They feel like they can get away with a lot,” said Anderson.
Florida Senator Darryl Rouson said he applauds the DJJ for looking to make changes, but said locking teens up won’t solve the problem.
“If the update only increases punishment of lockup time, then what have we really gained? I don’t think it solves the problem to lock a kid up longer or deters an auto theft if they think that they’re not going to get programs or services, all they’re going to get is punishment,” he said.
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