Juvenile Arrests Tampa
A recent study conducted by a University of Tampa adjunct professor, Grant Smith, Ph.D., shows that since Early Release Wednesday was implemented, there has been a significant increase in juvenile arrests during the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift on Wednesday during the school year.
The study looked at Wednesdays during the school year for a four year period starting with 2007-2008. Early release Wednesday was implemented during the 2009-2010 school year.
Key Findings of the report include:
- The average number of annual admissions to the Juvenile Assessment Center declined in the two years following implementation of the Early Release policy.
- Although the average annual admissions declined, the proportion of admissions on Wednesdays increased.
- Following implementation of the Policy, Wednesdays became the leading day in terms of the number of admissions.
- Following policy implementation the 12am-8am and 4pm-12am shifts declined in total admissions on Wednesdays.
- Considering admissions declined during the other two shifts, it is the growth of Wednesday admissions during the 8am – 4pm shift that has pushed Wednesday to the top spot.
“The good news is that generally admissions to the Juvenile Assessment Center have declined. Unfortunately admissions on Wednesdays during the 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. shift have grown significantly,” Smith said in his report.
Pinellas County Public Defender Bob Dillinger voiced his concern. “I’ve never been comfortable with the concept of Early Release Wednesday because the more unsupervised time any child has, the greater the chance he or she will get into trouble.”
The report shows the spike in arrests come during the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift on Wednesdays: “In the years following implementation of the policy, Wednesday has become the busiest day of the week for admissions. This change in the status of Wednesday comes about despite decreased admissions during the 12 a.m. – 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. – 12 a.m. shifts and is a direct result of growth in admissions during the 8 a.m -4 p.m. shift.”
According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, juvenile violence peaks in the afterschool hours on school days and in the evenings on non-school days.
President of the Pinellas County Council of Parent Teacher Associations Mary Bartholf stated, “When combining these statistics with the fact that parents have already voiced their opinions that Early Release Wednesday should be abolished, it is time for the school board and teacher’s union to come up with a different plan.”
Early release Wednesday was implemented in order to give teachers more planning time.
Parents for Pinellas Students (P4PS) chair and Pinellas Education Foundation board member Bob McIntyre stated, “Teachers do need planning time, and they need to be appropriately compensated. Pinellas County Schools has a $1.2 billion budget. The district needs to place a higher priority on teacher compensation rather than trying to appease teachers with a band-aid that has no long-term benefit to them and that is detrimental to students and their parents.”