Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research

Juvenile Justice Educational Enhancement Program (JJEEP)

From 1998 to 2010, the Juvenile Justice Educational Enhancement Program (JJEEP) developed, implemented, and maintained a research-driven system that informed policy, improved local educational program performance, and positively changed the lives of thousands of Florida delinquent and at-risk youths.

JJEEP served youth in all juvenile justice educational programs in the State of Florida. At its peak, there were more than 200 such programs, serving from 8 to 350 students at any given time. On an average day, there were approximately 10,000 youths in the Florida juvenile justice system and more than 30,000 youths received educational services each year.

JJEEP’s mission was achieved by accomplishing the following:

  • establishing quality assurance standards that define the educational services that are expected to be delivered to students assigned to these programs;
  • conducting annual quality assurance reviews of the educational programs in all of Florida’s juvenile justice facilities;
  • making recommendations for program improvement;
  • initiating a Corrective Action Process when major problems are observed;
  • providing technical assistance to improve juvenile justice educational programs;
  • conducting research that identifies and validates the most promising juvenile justice educational practices;
  • providing annual recommendations to the Florida Department of Education and the State Legislature on policies aimed at improving educational practices in juvenile justice educational programs;
  • recognizing teaching excellence and the contributions of teachers by selecting an annual juvenile justice teacher of the year; and conducting statewide conferences for juvenile justice educators.

JJEEP’s primary goal was to ensure that each juvenile justice educational program in the State of Florida provided services of such a high quality that all young people transitioning back to their local communities will be prepared to return to school, work, and home settings as successful and well-educated citizens.

The major objectives included ensuring that each juvenile justice educational program in the State of Florida accomplished the following:

  • abided by all federal and state laws related to the educational process and the policies, rules, and regulations of the FLDOE;
  • provided the appropriate entry, on-site, and exit transition services for all students;
  • provided appropriate educational opportunities for students that include curriculum offerings, appropriate instructional delivery, classroom management, support services, and community support;
  • provided appropriate administrative activities that include smooth communication between all parties, employment of qualified personnel, opportunities for professional development, program evaluations, and reasonable funding and support; and
  • school district provided necessary support and resources, which include maintaining an appropriate contract or cooperative agreement, providing local oversight and adequate support.

The JJEEP offices are located in Tallahassee, but the juvenile justice programs that are reviewed by JJEEP are located all over the State of Florida, from Pensacola to Jacksonville and from the Georgia line to Key West, with a heavier concentration in the Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando, and Jacksonville metropolitan areas. Programs are located in the middle of large cities, in the suburbs, in small towns, in rural communities, and in remote wilderness areas.

Ultimately, JJEEP was recognized by the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) as an exemplary program and was funded to provide assistance to other states throughout the country regarding quality and accountability of education practices for incarcerated delinquent youth. The funding enabled JJEEP to host a series of national conferences and work directly with state leaders in juvenile justice education. The meetings, and subsequent targeted assistance to several states, focused upon the implementation of best-practices for the education of incarcerated delinquent youth.


George Pesta, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator: Thomas Blomberg, Ph.D., Dean and Sheldon L. Messinger of Criminology

Agency Sponsor: Florida Department of Corrections

Amount: $18 million