Florida lawmakers are joining advocates for juvenile justice and policy makers in expressing concern about how frequently the state’s young offenders are funneled into the adult justice system with a proposed bill. House Bill 129 offers an alternative to give judges more oversight in which juvenile cases are tried in adult court, a power currently yielded largely by prosecutors.
Florida’s high volume of “direct file” cases
Florida leads the country in juvenile offenders treated as adults, with over 10,000 people under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system. Whether or not juveniles are charged as adults is determined largely by the influence of prosecutors. The decision to put a child in the adult justice system is called “direct file.” Opponents to the frequency of the practice argue that it offers young offenders less opportunity to turn the trajectory of their lives around.
Reform bill would require prosecutors to seek judge’s approval
Lawmakers are seeking to change the current system in Florida with House Bill 129, which would require a judge’s approval to try a juvenile as an adult. The bill, if passed, would not prevent any juvenile from being tried as an adult. What the bill would do is require prosecutors to seek approval from a judge to try a juvenile offender.
Not all juvenile offenses would require a judge’s approval before being moved to the adult system. More serious offenses, such as murder, manslaughter, and sexual battery are exceptions to the proposed measure.
Impacts on recidivism
Lawmakers and youth advocates point to higher recidivism rates for juveniles charged as adults, and the social and economic impact of repeat offenders on the state as a whole. They also point to the higher level of rehabilitation services available in the juvenile system.
Allegations of criminal offense are a serious, no matter what the defendant’s age. An experienced criminal lawyer will make sure that your rights within the law are protected at all times.
Florida lawmakers again want to reform how juveniles are tried as adults, www.miamiherald.com, Kristin M. Clark, 22 Oct 2015