Juvenile Justice in Florida: Spatial Variation in the Use of Punitive and Rehabilitative Measures


  • Ray Oldakowski Jacksonville University
  • Shelly Grant Jacksonville University
  • Kristin Haycock Jacksonville University


This paper examines the spatial variation in the use of arrests, civil citations, and post-arrest diversion programs to respond to juvenile crime in the state of Florida. We hypothesize that local law enforcement officials utilize these measures based on preferences of the populations they serve. We utilize several demographic and socioeconomic variables to characterize these preferences and explain why certain parts of the state prefer punitive measures while others prefer rehabilitative measures. Our findings first describe the spatial patterns of these different approaches to juvenile justice and reveal that standard regional patterns such as north, central, south or urban, suburban, and rural are not without exception. Regarding the potential determinants of these spatial patterns, age and race, as well as local crime rates, are most influential. The research questions examined in this study represent an exciting new avenue of study for those interested in the geography of crime.