State Demographics

In 1996, Florida's youth population under age 18 was approximately 3,423,100 (Casey Foundation 1998).

Of the State's children, approximately 12 percent were living in families with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty level in 1995. Further, it is estimated that in 1995, approximately 24 percent of Florida's children under age 13 were living in working-poor families or families where at least one parent was working 50 or more hours a week but the family's income was still below the poverty level (Casey Foundation 1998).

Florida ranked 37th in the country in terms of teen birth rate for 1995. This same year, the birth rate in the State was approximately 40 births per 1,000 young women ages 15-17. This was up from 37 births per 1,000 young women in 1985 (Casey Foundation 1998).

In the 1994-95 school year, young women represented 48 percent (10,594) of students reported as truant by State schools. For this same year, young women represented 40 percent (11,401) of students dropping out of public school (Florida Department of Education 1996, p. 70).

Also during the 1994-95 school year, young women accounted for 33 percent (71,882) of the students who received in-school suspensions, 29 percent (55,543) of the students who received out-of-school suspensions, and 21 percent (247) of the students who were expelled (Florida Department of Education 1996, pp. 278-280).

Overview of the Juvenile Justice System

Florida is divided into 20 judicial circuits served by 356 judges elected for four-year terms of office. Each circuit also selects a Chief Judge, who serves in this capacity for two years. In delinquency cases, judges make commitments to one of Florida's eight specific levels of security. Placement in an individual program is then determined by availability and other factors (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice 1994, pp. 46-47).

In 1994, the State legislature created the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and gave it full authority to ensure a continuum of programs and services for juvenile offenders (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice 1995, p. 34).

The Formula Grants Program is housed within the Bureau of Prevention Services in the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Offense Patterns and Processing of Juvenile Female Offenders

The following statistics give an overview of the information available on female offending and processing patterns in Florida:

  • In 1993, a total of 16,623 young women were arrested in Florida. This represented 18.9 percent of the total juvenile arrests for the State for this year (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice 1994, p. 86).

  • In 1992-93, young women represented 19.8 percent of the total delinquency cases received by the juvenile court. This was up slightly from 19.3 percent in 1991-92 and 18.8 percent in 1990-91 (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice 1994, p. 105).

  • In 1992-93, there were 27,854 cases involving young women referred to the juvenile court as compared with 14,485 cases in 1982-83. This represents a 92 percent increase. However, it should be noted that male cases referred rose 94 percent during this same time period (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice 1994, p. 177).

  • Of the 154 cases in 1993 when a nondelinquent was detained in a secure facility in the State of Florida, 77 percent of these cases were young women (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice 1994, p. 166).

  • In 1992, young women represented 14 percent (4,857) of the youth admitted to detention and 11 percent (372) of the committed youth (Poe-Yamagata and Butts 1996, p. 19).

Table 9. Florida Top 10 Female Offenses, 1993







Simple assault


Aggravated assault




Motor vehicle theft


Drug arrest


Liquor law violations




Weapons violations


Source: Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (1994)

Approach to Female Offenders

Using Challenge Activity funds along with other resources, the Florida Bureau of Prevention Services established five specific objectives for meeting the needs of the juvenile female offenders in the State:

  • Establish an advisory group for juvenile female issues. Within the Florida Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group, a committee has been established to address both issues of minority overrepresentation and adequate services for juvenile female offenders. Further, a separate working group has been formed within the Department of Juvenile Justice to address specifically the statewide issues related to female offenders. This work group, with assistance provided from CRA through OJJDP's technical assistance program, has begun the development of a strategic plan.

  • Assist in the establishment of programs that ensure females have access to the full range of juvenile justice services. Staff from the Bureau of Prevention Services, participating as part of the State's working group, have been actively involved in conducting onsite visits at programs throughout the State that are designed to serve the needs of young women. These onsite visits also include monitoring all female-related programs funded through JJDP Title II funding. Finally, staff have also conducted onsite visits at two gender-specific programs in Maryland in hopes of developing similar programming in Florida.

    In a recent effort, and again through technical assistance provided by CRA, several key members of the female working group received specific training designed to assist with assessments of gender-specific programs in the State.

  • Develop a status report on female juvenile offenders. In February 1997, the Department of Juvenile Justice began a female offender research project designed to generate quarterly reports revealing trends and statistics about the young women in Florida's juvenile justice system. This information will be used to generate a more complete status report.

    In May 1997, DJJ published Profile of Female Delinquency Cases and Youths Referred. This report documents the extent and nature of young women's involvement in the State's juvenile justice system from referral to disposition, for fiscal years 1991-92 through 1995-96. For information on ordering a copy of this report, see Appendix B, Available State Product.

  • Implement training designed for staff working with young women. Community-based training on the awareness and specific needs of young women offenders was conducted by staff of the Bureau of Prevention Services at six regional training workshops throughout the State. Further, training about the female working group and its strategic plan has been made available to the Juvenile Justice Council and Board. OJJDP technical assistance was also used to provide training to the staff at Department headquarters and at various programs around the State.

  • Provide funding opportunities for model and pilot programs and research and services. A grant application for three pilot/demonstration programs was developed by staff at the Bureau of Prevention Services. Funding awards in the amount of $300,000 were made in May 1997. Further, the State Advisory Group has also made funding available for a female offender research project (Florida Department of Juvenile Justice 1997, p. 2).


Annie E. Casey Foundation. 1998. KIDS COUNT Online Data Service. Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, MD.

Florida Department of Education. 1996. Department of Education Fact Sheets. Tallahassee, FL.

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. 1994. Florida 1994-96 Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Three Year Comprehensive Plan. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. 1995. Florida 1995 Amended JJDP Three Year Comprehensive State Plan. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. 1997. Florida 1997 Challenge Activity E Categorical Assistance Progress Report. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.

Poe-Yamagata, E., and J.A. Butts. 1996. Female Offenders in the Juvenile Justice System: Statistics Summary. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.

Juvenile Female Offenders: A Status of the States Report October 1998