juvenile justice


Fewer teens and kids are being arrested in Florida than at any point in the past 43 years, according to state data released Monday by the Department of Juvenile Justice.

In Northeast Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit, the number of juvenile arrests has dropped by 35 percent in the last five years alone.

Florida Supreme Court exterior
Via Jacksonville Daily Record

A divided Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld simultaneous 1,000-year prison sentences for a man who was convicted of what the court described as “brutally” assaulting women when he was a juvenile in 1983.

mug shot
Florida Department of Corrections

Fifty-five years in prison is not the same as a life sentence, a Florida appeals court ruled Monday. The sentence was handed down to a 16-year-old Jacksonville boy for attempted murder.

Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center

The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center recently released its latest three year data trends report, "See the Change: Girls' Juvenile Justice Trends on the First Coast."

The report is a significant look at juvenile justice in this area, especially when it comes to the unfair way the system often treats teenage girls.

We discuss the latest trends with Lawanda Ravoira, president and CEO of the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, and Vanessa Patino, vice president of research and planning.  

Juvenile Diversion

Every year, police arrest more than 2,000 juveniles in Duval County. Nearly half are under the age of 15.

Some are arrested for serious offensives but many get in trouble due to bad influences and immaturity, and this contact with the criminal justice system can affect their lives for years afterwards.

This has led to a strong focus in recent  years on juvenile diversion programs to give them a chance to clean their record. In Duval County, four of these programs serve more than 1,200 children each year.

Tess Duvall, education, children and families reporter for the Florida Times-Union, has been taking an in-depth look into these program and their effectiveness for a series of articles running in the paper this week. She joins us to discuss them.

Duval Academy sign
Duval County Schools

After years of controversy, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is ending its relationship with Youth Services International, a for-profit firm with state contracts totaling roughly $90 million to run seven juvenile lockups.

young man under arrest
Chris Yarzab via Flickr

Bills are moving in the House and Senate that would limit the ability of Florida prosecutors to charge juvenile offenders as adults, a legal practice known as "direct file."

Each measure has passed one committee, and they could be on a collision course, turning on the question of how much discretion prosecutors should have in such cases.

Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT News

A juvenile justice “fair” took over part of the Duval County Courthouse Wednesday.

It was Circuit Judge Suzanne Bass’s idea to bring together dozens of government agencies, youth service providers, educators, parents and community activists in a second-floor room of the courthouse so they could get to know each other.

“I see a lot of kids in my courtroom who haven’t found services, and these are the kids, the at-risk kids, that desperately need these services,” Bass said. “I’m connecting dots, hoping to.”

We discuss the week's top news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: Ron Littlepage, Florida Times-Union columnist; Fred Matthews, Examiner blogger; A.G. Gancarski, Folio Weekly and Florida Politics columnist; and WJCT analyst John Burr.

Topics include the showdown between Mayor Lenny Curry and Planning Commission Chair-Elect Lisa King, the second Republican presidential debate, and the uncertain future of the Jacksonville Skyway people mover.

Florida Senate

A new Florida law is aimed at keeping young people out of jail.

Jacksonville Democratic State Senator Audrey Gibson sponsored the Juvenile Justice legislation.

She says it allows police to issue more civil citations for juvenile offenders instead of locking them up. Gibson also says police will have more latitude dealing with minors who’ve committed nonviolent misdemeanors.

“The bill says that an officer can simply call a parent if they think that would be beneficial to that young person,” she said.  

Hundreds of faith and community leaders are expected to meet at Jacksonville’s Potter’s House Church Monday to press city officials about Jacksonville’s crime problem, along with discussing other campaign issues like education, jobs and mental health. The event is sponsored by ICARE, the Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation and Empowerment. We speak with ICARE members Rev. Bruce Havens, of Arlington Congregational, and Rev. James Wiggins, of St. Paul Lutheran Church.


The man hoping to unseat Jacksonville-based State Attorney Angela Corey says he's doing it to restore public confidence in the leadership of Florida's Fourth Circuit.

"Prosecutors have to work in the court of public opinion as well as the courtroom," says challenger Wes White.

Bruin79 / Wikimedia Commons

Florida inmates serving life sentences for crimes they committed as juveniles should be resentenced under guidelines that went into effect last year, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday.

In four separate cases, the justices ordered lower courts to apply the 2014 law to inmates who, as juveniles, were sentenced in the past either to life in prison or to terms that would have effectively kept them behind bars until they die. Two of the inmates were convicted of murder.

Rhema Thompson

Twenty-six Duval County high school students were at Jacksonville University Thursday afternoon to cap of their final day in a special course aimed at tackling issues of perceptions, community and the justice system.

The course, entitled Media and Crime, was developed three years ago by JU Sociology Professor Shelley Grant.

In the wake of high-profile cases of slain youths Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, it takes on a new kind of relevance.

The Duval County grand jury Thursday indicted a 13-year-old boy on a charge of second-degree murder in the shooting death of a 54-year-old homeless man. State Attorney Angela Corey said he will be tried as an adult. Our news partner News4Jax has the full story.