The Phoenix Flyer

New report says Florida prosecutes more children in the adult criminal justice system than any other state

By: - August 28, 2018 6:55 pm

According to a new study that looks at how many American teenagers are serving time in in adult jails, a full 60 percent of the youths serving life without parole sentences for a non-homicidal crime are from Florida.

That’s the most of any state in the union, according to a report from the UCLA School of Law, “Getting to Zero: A 50 State Study of Strategies to Remove Youth from Adult Jails.”

”Florida state law requires all children charged as adults to be housed in adult facilities. Advocates say that youths under age 17 are 36 times more likely to commit suicide i an adult jail than in a juvenile detention facility.

Since 2009, 19 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws which limit or remove youth from adult jails.

The report says that if Florida and five other states – Alabama, Arizona, Oklahoma, Maryland and Pennsylvania – were to change their laws to prohibit youth from being held in adult jails, the population of youth in adult jails would be reduced by 26%.

An average of 32,000 to 60,000 youth enter adult jail every year, and since 2009, more than 15,000 children have been prosecuted as
adults in Florida, the most in the nation.

The report also says that young offenders are at risk in adult jails because the jails often fail to separate youths from adults, from each
other, from potential violence from guards, and don’t provide adequate health and mental health care, education and exercise.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.