When it comes to charging youth offenders as adults, Florida ranks at the top in the nation. From 2003-2008, Florida transferred juveniles into the adult system two times the amount that the state with the second highest amount of youths charged as adults transferred them into the adult courts. From 2008-2012, over 12,000 Florida children were transferred into the adult criminal justice system. Some may argue that this is because the punishments in the juvenile system for youth offenders are not nearly tough enough, and many offenders under the age of 18 who commit violent crimes deserve a harsher sentence through the adult courts. Others argue that you cannot charge juveniles as adults due to differences in brain development, and the stark reality that many youth offenders who go into the adult system are more often abused and have higher recidivism rates.
On Friday, August 19, Palm Beach County Court Judge, Jeffery Colbath amended the previous punishment of Ramon Rosario. Rosario was sentenced to over 200 years of prison time after being convicted of leading a band of young individuals into people's homes, kidnapping, and robbing them. He was also the participant in a standoff with a Boca Raton officer. The adjusted sentencing is in line with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision where states should avoid giving life sentences to juvenile offenders who had not committed murder.
The juvenile justice system in Florida continues to be a hot topic. In December, the Juvenile Justice Bill received a lot of attention and now a ruling from earlier in 2015 is making a stir by creating a backlog of cases in courtrooms throughout the state. In the ruling by the Florida Supreme Court, juveniles (individuals under the age of 18) that committed a murder can still be sentenced to life imprisonment; however, those individuals are entitled to a review of that sentencing after 25 years.
On December 1, 2015 the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee took a hard look at Florida's direct-file laws and their effects on the lives of juvenile offenders. In the last five years, 12,000 juvenile offenders have ended up in Florida's adult criminal justice system - 60 percent of them non-violent offenders.
Students and Professor Petition Supreme Court
A group of law students at the University of Utah are petitioning the US Supreme Court in another development in debate over juvenile offenders.