Juvenile

Bay County, Florida

Hundreds of people serving life in prison for crimes they committed as teenagers could get a chance at a reduced sentence, after a Florida Supreme Court ruling this month.

The court considered the case of Rebecca Falcon, who was convicted in the shooting death of a Panama City Beach cab driver when she was 15.

Rhema Thompson

There’s something universally jarring about the sound of shackles. It’s slow and, while high-pitched, carries a timbre of gloom.

It’s especially unnerving when those shackles are chained to the feet and arms of a slight, young man, like the one who stood in front of an audience on a recent evening.

“At the end of the day, y’all are going home. I’m still locked up,” he told the group of young men sitting before him.

His words were quiet, but he had their full attention.

Rhema Thompson / WJCT

On Thursday, August 14 at 8 p.m., WJCT-TV and 89.9 FM in partnership with News4Jax will simulcast a First Coast Forum program examining the school to prison pipeline. This report is a preview of that discussion.

On a recent morning just a few weeks before school starts, teachers gather in Atlantic Coast High School for CHAMPS training.

“You do have expectations for behavior for your kids when they come to the carpet; every teacher does,” one instructor tells the others. “All you have to do is wrap it up for us in this acronym.”