The ACLU of Florida works to further juvenile justice reforms at the state and local levels. Despite reforms, counterproductive practices persist throughout our education, justice, and child welfare systems. These practices trap at-risk youth rather than rehabilitate them.
Florida is one of only three states that give prosecutors the sole, unappealable discretion to prosecute juveniles as adults. We hold more youth in adult jails and prisons than any other state.
While the state’s arrest rate has steadily declined in recent years, there is more work to be done. There are vast inequalities in justice by county and by race, with black youth two and half times as likely to be arrested as white youth.
Counties have tools to meet the rehabilitative and restorative goals of the juvenile justice system without the collateral consequences arrests bring. The ACLU of Florida is working with policymakers, advocates and community organizers to get schools, law enforcement and the judiciary fair and effective tools to address delinquency and to ensure that they use the ones they already have.
- 1Florida led the nation between 2011-2015 with the highest number of youth in state or federal prisons.
- 2Pre-arrest diversion has the lowest recidivism rate, yet is only available to 55% of the state’s eligible youth.
- 3Black youth are 2.7 times as likely to be arrested as white youth in Florida.
- 4Youth with learning disabilities are more than seven times as likely to be arrested at school in Florida.