In exchange for helping Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice research and develop its next wave of innovations through internships and employment opportunities, some students from the historically Black Bethune-Cookman University will get an inside track for careers at the department.
As in other states, Florida’s Black youth are disproportionately represented in the state’s juvenile justice system.
The announcement this week of the partnership, unprecedented in the state, comes amid intense pressure on state and local governments nationwide to do more to stem systemic racism in the field of justice. The partnership will give students and faculty in several disciplines a chance to dig into the numbers to ferret out possible avenues for reform.
Majors in criminal justice, sociology, psychology, education, political science and health science will work closely with the state’s Office of Research & Data Integrity staff to “conduct cutting-edge juvenile justice research to improve the effectiveness of juvenile services across the department’s service delivery continuum.”
Randy Nelson, director of the university’s Center for Law & Social Justice and department chairperson of the masters in criminal justice administration program, said in an email to The Imprint that the main objective of the partnership is to help “develop the next generation of juvenile justice professionals and leaders.”
The program will introduce and expose undergraduate criminal justice students to hands-on research processes and techniques, Nelson said, and let them apply and test criminological theories and concepts by digging into the state’s sophisticated juvenile delinquency data programs.
Students will also be able to expand their research interests and aspirations and trace how multiple variables, such as race, ethnicity, gender, education, socioeconomics and exposure to trauma may affect delinquency involvement and recidivism, Nelson said.
Bethune-Cookman University offers a Juvenile Justice Reform certificate program in partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Students who complete the certificate program and gain real-world experience with departments of juvenile justice will be well-positioned to become the next generation of juvenile justice professionals and leaders, the department said in a news release.