Children Deserve Better from Florida’s Justice System

Once a child is charged as an adult, s/he is held in adult jail (often in isolation) and, if convicted, sentenced to adult prison.

Blog Post (Florida)

Cassandra Capobianco
Huffington Post
April 29, 2016

Tags: Criminal Justice, Juvenile Justice

Organizations mentioned/involved: Florida Legal Services (FLS)


The injustice of these conditions aside, a successful return to the community after such experiences is extremely difficult. The Florida Institutional Legal Services Project (FILS), a civil legal aid provider advocating for people in state custody, is litigating R.W.’s case, and several others, to improve the conditions for children in Florida’s prisons, but litigation is a long and uphill battle, throughout which inmates continue to bear the brunt of the system’s cruelty.

How can we honestly expect R.W., and the hundreds of other young people released from Florida’s prisons each year to succeed? Florida incarcerates more children in adult jails than any other state in the nation, but provides virtually no reentry services to them when they are coming back to our communities hoping to rebuild their lives. (According to Human Rights Watch, more than 12,000 juvenile crime suspects in Florida were transferred to the adult court system between 2009 – 2014.)

Just like adults with felonies in Florida, children with felony convictions struggle to obtain identification, employment, and housing. They are forever prohibited from obtaining government student loan assistance, which effectively bars many from pursuing a college degree. School districts are allowed to suspend children who are charged with an adult felony, and to expel children who are convicted of one, making even a high school diploma difficult for many to achieve.