March 21, 2012
In October of last year the ACLU of Florida, members of the NAACP and a former Secretary of Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice held a press conference in Polk County to demand that the Polk County Sheriff stop detaining children as young as 10 years old in his jail designed to house adults.
Today the Southern Poverty Law Center is announcing a lawsuit regarding the practice of detention juveniles in the Polk County jail.
Below is a statement from Julie Ebenstein, Policy and Advocacy Counsel at the ACLU of Florida, regarding announcement today of lawsuit against Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd for mistreatment of juveniles in the Polk County jail:
“In October of last year we made it clear to the Sheriff that his policies could and likely would hurt children. The Sheriff ignored our requests and warnings and now he will have to explain himself to a judge.
“Kids are kids – even in jail. Kids are not simply miniature adults. There are decades of research that proves that kids have special needs and that jails built and run for adults are inappropriate.
“The Legislature should have never given Sheriffs the authority to house kids in adult jails and they should repeal that provision immediately. But this lawsuit should be a real lesson for other Sheriffs who are tempted to follow a similar path. And it’s a lesson even kids understand: just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”