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Residents interested in learning about how Pinellas County’s juvenile justice system works are invited to join the new Juvenile Justice Citizens’ Academy.

PINELLAS COUNTY — The Pinellas County Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative announces the upcoming Pinellas County Juvenile Justice Citizens’ Academy.

The Pinellas County Juvenile Justice Citizens Academy is a free nine-week program for Pinellas County residents 18 years of age and older. Participants will be able to meet face to face with the providers and experts. Each week, the class will meet at a different facility for an up close view of how services are provided for detained and at-risk youth and their families in Pinellas County. The Pinellas County Juvenile Justice Citizens’ Academy will increase awareness and understanding that will enable participants to become more effectively involved in the juvenile justice system. Some of the areas to be discussed include: prevention, civil citation, diversion, probation, residential commitment, community-based programs, the Pinellas Juvenile Assessment Center, the Pinellas Regional Detention Center, the Unified Family Court, the State Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender’s Office.

A Citizens’ Academy is a civic education program that helps promote informed and involved citizenship. However, among local government and police citizen academies, the topic of juvenile justice is limited in the curriculum. The Pinellas County Juvenile Justice Citizens’ Academy will increase awareness and understanding of the juvenile justice system in Pinellas County. [Note: The program is informational and does not train or promote citizens to act in a law enforcement capacity. This academy does not provide any law enforcement certification.]

Class enrollment size for the Pinellas County Juvenile Justice Citizens’ Academy will be limited. The program seeks to have participants representative of Pinellas County.  If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in this program, you are entitled, at no cost, to the provision of certain assistance.  If you need assistance, contact the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights at (727) 464-4062. The JJCA will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays at various locations in Pinellas. Classes run from April 9 to June 4. Participants are expected to attend at least seven of the nine sessions. Applications are due March 20. Contact Pinellas County JDAI Coordinator, Gina Gibbs at (727) 453-7436 or go to pinellascounty.org  for information or to apply.

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