Volusia County Sheriff's Office launches program to help juvenile offenders

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office is launching a program to help youth in the community and reduce juvenile crime.

It will involve monitoring juvenile offenders through an ankle monitor and help them break bad habits that got them in trouble in the first place, the sheriff’s office said.

Under the program, the sheriff’s office will meet regularly with offenders that will include scheduled and unscheduled checks to homes. 

“This is a program that had a great impact on reducing juvenile recidivism when we brought it to Daytona Beach, and I’m confident that it will produce positive results now that we’re expanding it to the Sheriff’s Office,” said Sheriff Mike Chitwood in a press release Thursday.

Under a contract with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the Sheriff’s Office will monitor juvenile offenders who are court ordered to wear an ankle bracelet tracking device.

The state will pay the county $56,000 a year to provide the service, which will include at least weekly, face-to-face contacts with offenders and around-the-clock response when an ankle monitor alerts officials to a potential violation.

“You have the joint effort of the DJJ and the sheriff’s office involved,” said Chitwood. “So, there’s going to be that constant supervision there.” 

The contract aims to “ensure youth receive required community based supervision through monitoring and response to system alerts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Chitwood said it’s about more than strict enforcement and making sure offenders make their court dates.

He said it’s a way to break the cycle of crime by connecting youth with community services.

Chitwood said he implemented the program when he was police chief of Daytona Beach, and more than 60 percent of participants didn’t re-offend during their first year.

“This is a very proactive and progressive program,” said Chitwood. “We don’t plan to just sit around and wait for an ankle monitor alert to go off. This is about building relationships, changing behavior and changing lives one youth at a time.”