Groups and families from across the state share personal stories and demand legislators take action to fix broken juvenile justice system

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 8, 2013
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, media@aclufl.org, (786) 363-2737

TALLAHASSEE – Today, children’s groups, civil rights organizations and advocates for criminal justice reform held a “Rally for Florida’s Children” at the State Capitol. At the rally, advocates and elected officials stood together calling on the legislature to take action to fix a juvenile justice system that over-criminalizes youthful behavior and treats children as adults, ignoring their unique psychological and rehabilitation needs.

Among the actions which attendees of the rally advocated for was passage of SB 812/HB959, the Youth in Solitary Confinement Reduction Act, by Sen. Audrey Gibson and Rep. Ricardo Rangel, which limits the use of solitary confinement on young people, protect the youngest and most vulnerable prisoners, and allow them to rehabilitate effectively.

The following statement may be attributed to Ron Bilbao, Senior Legislative Associate, ACLU of Florida:

“The ACLU is proud to stand with the children of Florida in defense of their freedoms and constitutional rights. The Youth in Solitary Confinement Reduction Act by Senator Gibson and Representative Rangel would end the cruel practice of solitary confinement for children in adult jails and prisons. But the leadership in the Florida legislature has refused to take meaningful action to protect our most vulnerable population.

“Meanwhile, Florida sends more children under age 18 to adult state prisons than any other state.  Once detained in adult prisons, youth are subjected to solitary confinement according to the same rules as adults. The legislation presented by Senator Gibson and Representative Rangel would change that. Solitary confinement of children is unnecessary and can cause serious physical and mental harm to a child’s development. These bills would put limits on this cruel and unnecessary practice.

“We all know that children are not simply miniature adults. Young people are far less psychologically capable of handling the trauma of solitary confinement.  We urge the leadership in the legislature to take immediate action to protect Florida’s children.

More information on the Youth in Solitary Confinement Reduction Act is available here: http://aclufl.org/?p=2942