Big week for juvenile justice in Florida. On Tuesday the Blueprint Commission submitted its report on “getting smart” about its response to delinquency, and on Thursday Governor Charlie Crist appointed St. Petersburg State Representative Frank Peterman to head the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Peterman will step in at the end of the month, after the current secretary, Walt McNeill, moves over to the top spot on the state’s adult corrections side. The Miami Herald notes that Peterman is the ranking Democratic member of the Florida House Committee on Juvenile Justice, a Baptist minister and the former director of Development for Juvenile Services Programs of St. Petersburg, a nonprofit agency that contracts with DJJ.
“The vision we have for the state is to try to make sure we continue the push for prevention programs but balance that with public safety,” Peterman told the Herald after the news was announced this evening. “We’ve got to stop our children from being locked into the system once they’re in, and we’ve got find a way to keep our kids out of the system from the start.”
Roy Miller, a colleague of Peterman’s who runs the nonprofit advocacy organization Children’s Campaign, described Peterman in the Herald piece as a “thoughtful” person who “knows the issues.” Miller also recommended that Peterman “must immediately ask for more money” to fix the broken system. I second that sentiment.
Welcome, Peterman, and good luck.