George Gibbs Center for Economic Prosperity

Palm Beach Pos⁠t⁠ — K⁠i⁠ds and cr⁠i⁠me: W⁠i⁠ll lawmakers pu⁠t⁠ ⁠t⁠he brakes on charg⁠i⁠ng k⁠i⁠ds as adul⁠t⁠s?

By: The James Madison Institute / 2015

Palm Beach Post
“Kids and crime: Will lawmakers put the brakes on charging kids as adults?”
April 8, 2015Rambling its way through the Legislature is a bill that could upend Florida’s penchant for trying teenagers as adults- including teenagers as young as 13.
Florida is a national leader in the numbers of minors charged as adults, and Palm Beach County has been among the most aggressive of Florida Counties.
In one case described by Palm Beach Post reporter Jane Musgrave, a 15-year-old set a soap dispenser on fire at Lake Worth High School. He stomped it out, but the $45 of damage prompted the state attorney’s office to charge him as an adult for first degree arson. A conviction would have sent him to prison for 30 years.
Of 135 juveniles charged as adults in Palm Beach County in 2012, Musgrave found, 80 had no prior record. Ten of those first-time offenders were charged as adults for selling $10 bags of pot to undercover agents.
Everyone from the conservative leaning James Madison Institute to the reliably liberal Human Rights Watch have weighed in on the side of changing how Florida sentences kids.
The proposed Florida bill would do just that: curb the ability of states’ attorneys to charge teenagers and give judges more flexibility in sentencing them.
Here’s the Human Rights Watch critique of Florida sentencing kids: the James Madison Institute’s white paper: