|Published:||Dec 30, 2010 3:39 PM EST|
|Updated:||Dec 29, 2010 10:05 PM EST|
FORT MYERS, Fla-Kaley Graham is a different teen than she was two years ago.
"I was skipping school, I was going out for the weekends, and not coming back until Sunday night really late," she told WINK News.
Graham says family trouble led her to start hanging out with the wrong crowd at school. She was eventually kicked off the cheerleading team, and suspended from high school.
"Without Pace, I'd probably be on my own," Graham explained.
The Pace Center for Girls is a juvenile intervention and prevention program in Fort Myers. The community-based program helped Graham turn her life around.
"I feel like I have a home for the first time in a long time," she said.
Last year, Southwest Florida locked up more juveniles than Dade County.
"Our circuit doesn't receive a lot of funds for services," said Bill Naylor, the director of the Juvenile Assessment Center in Lee County.
Governor-elect Rick Scott says he wants to revamp the state's juvenile justice system by keeping kids who've committed smaller offenses from going to residential halfway houses. His team believes it would be more effective to send them to community-based programs. According to report on this topic, the revamp would keep juveniles from getting stuck in the system, and prevent them from re-offending.
The new plan is also expected to save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
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