This week the House Criminal Justice committee unanimously passed Proposed Committee Bill 14-01 pertaining to revisions to the Chapter 985, Florida Statutes, governing the juvenile justice system.  The bill has broad stakeholder support and places an emphasis on prevention services  in local communities to help divert youth from the justice system.  In order to help fund such programs, the Department of Juvenile Justice will promote the Invest In Children license plates and allocate funds within each county based on the county’s proportionate share of the annual license plate use fee.  The bill also allows the Department to create evening report centers as an alternate to secure detention, mandates the reduction in bed size in residential facilities to no more than 90 beds (compared to 165 beds), allows for alternative consequence programs in lieu of violating a youth’s probation, provides more robust transition services for youth leaving residential facilities, establishes a performance accountability system for providers contracting with the Department, and provides criminal penalties for employees who willfully and maliciously neglect a juvenile offender in the care of the Department. The bill now awaits referral to other committees.