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Hillsborough County, Florida, Juvenile Assessment Center: A Prototype

NCJ Number
Prison Journal Volume: 78 Issue: 4 Dated: December 1998 Pages: 439-450
J E Rivers; R Dembo; R S Anwyl
Date Published
12 pages
This paper describes Hillsborough County's (Tampa, Fla.) Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC), which assesses the nature and extent of risks to and from arrested juveniles; this JAC is presented as a prototype for communities throughout the Nation.
Police vehicles arrive at the Center by entering a secure "sallyport." When a youth enters the Center, official forms are exchanged among the arresting officer, sheriff's deputies who operate the Center's secure wing, and State Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) staff. Once police and DJJ personnel have completed their admission tasks, DJJ detention intake and Center assessor personnel further process the juveniles. The Center facility is coordinated by a Tampa-based private nonprofit substance abuse treatment agency. The Center shares a building with the treatment agency's 20-bed adolescent detoxification and stabilization program with full-time nursing staff, medical, psychological, and psychiatric back-up services. This physical consolidation of services contributes to operational efficiency and cost savings. JAC assessors complete preliminary screening of arrested youth and, if indicated, refer juveniles to specific services, such as substance abuse treatment and Delinquency (Psychological) Assessment Team services. Referrals and their outcomes are tracked. JAC assessors also obtain identifying information and the names and locations of significant others, permitting tracking of the youth once they leave the Center and/or community-based service programs. The JAC relies on its comprehensive information system for efficient coordination among multiple stakeholders. JACs modeled after the Hillsborough Center can expect to struggle in most jurisdictions to obtain cooperation and funding. Evaluation research is critical in the planning and funding of such JACs, so as to provide empirical evidence of the model's efficacy in general and in specific implementations. 44 references