juvenile justice reform

Tuesday on First Coast Connect we spoke with attorney Rob Mason, Director of the Juvenile Division with 4th District Public Defender’s Office and a bipartisan effort in Tallahassee to reform the state’s juvenile justice system (01:08).

The latest edition of Moveable Feast features Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra supporter Bill Maletz speaking about the upcoming Wines for Music event at Marsh Landing Country Club (27:36).  

Ahead of her speaking at next week’s Women with Heart Luncheon we spoke with House of Cards and 24 actress Jayne Atkinson-Gill (35:40).

Co-organizers of The Made in St. Augustine festival Monika Benthal and Jaclyn Zeichner joined the show to tell us about next month’s event (46:00).    

Friday on “First Coast Connect” our weekly Media Roundtable featured Tessa Duvall from The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville Business Journal editor Timothy Gibbons and blogger Fred Matthews (01:16).


Gabriel House of Care Executive Director Valerie Callahan talked about their upcoming Living Well Symposium (42:05).

We also spoke with author Larry Baker who sets his novels in Northeast Florida (46:24).

Guest host Ryan Benk was joined Monday by Florida Times-Union reporter Tessa Duvall, who wrote a story about how, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling life prison sentences for minors are unconstitutional, it could take years for some convicted in Duval County to see any change in their sentences.

We were also joined by Pastor Phillip Baber and Nancy Ricker of I-CARE, which is pushing to increase the use of civil citations in Jacksonville.

Author Ebony Payne-English spoke about her new book of poetry, “The Secrets of Ma’at.”

And Kim Bynum and Michele McManamon from the group ONECOR924 told us about their program to help former athletes. 

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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.

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.

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.

An ongoing fight between Florida’s counties and the state Department of Juvenile Justice is expected to continue during a hearing next week, considering a new formula with which both sides will divvy up the cost of Florida’s juvenile detention centers.

Today, 38 counties are supposed to be responsible for paying about 32 percent of juvenile detention costs. That’s according to Florida Association of Counties Spokeswoman Craigin Mosteller.

Wikimedia Commons

TALLAHASSEE (The News Service of Florida) — Both sides are unhappy that the Legislature failed to come up with a plan for dividing the costs of detaining young offenders between the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and county governments.

In the last several days, a number of bills aimed at helping Florida’s criminal justice and juvenile justice systems have passed in either chamber of the state Legislature. They range from a measure to prevent inmate escapes to another that aims to revamp the juvenile justice system.

Bill Addressing Inmate Escapes

Making sure prison release orders are properly verified is the goal of bill authored by Sen. Greg Evers (R-Baker) in his capacity as chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

Wikimedia Commons

Are juvenile offenders in North Florida's Fourth Circuit Court treated the same as those in other parts of the state?

This week the formation of the Jacksonville Juvenile Justice Coalition was announced.

It’s a powerhouse group of elected officials, churches, advocates and policy organizations – they’re joining forces to put a stop to the criminalization of first-time juvenile offenders on the First Coast.

Their goal is to divert more kids into civil citation programs and keep them out of what’s known as the “school to prison pipeline.” Jacksonville incarcerates far more juveniles than other urban areas around the state.

Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT

The Southern Poverty Law Center Thursday formally announced the formation of the Jacksonville Juvenile Justice Coalition.

David Utter, policy director for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Florida office, says his organization is also working with two other communities with high rates of juvenile incarceration.

“Tampa sends more kids to the adult system than any other county," he said.

Marissa Alexander back in court, Fresh Market confirmed for Riverside, and Sanford banning guns for neighborhood watch members are in the headlines today.

TALLAHASSEE (The News Service of Florida) — In the wake of a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upended sentencing guidelines for juveniles, the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments in a case involving Shimeeka Gridine, who was sentenced to 70 years in prison for crimes committed when he was 14 years old.

Publik15 / Flickr

The calls for juvenile justice reform in Florida are  growing, as advocates turn to research to prove that more robust juvenile diversion programs for first-time offenders can prevent kids from dropping out of school. 

The local interfaith coalition ICARE is one of the local advocates pushing diversion, not jail, for juvenile first-time offenders.

They say such an approach is especially needed in Duval County, where one in three high school kids don't make it to graduation.