Juvenile Justice

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile Justice

The League of Women Voters of Lee County Florida supports a Juvenile Justice System that encourages prevention and diversion and recognizes the special concerns of children and their families.

Delegates to the 1975 League of Women Voters of Florida Convention recognized that elements of both the criminal justice and the social welfare systems are involved in the juvenile justice system and that it should not be considered only from the criminal justice perspective or the social welfare viewpoint.

Juvenile crime is by no means limited to the poor and minorities. However, correlations exist between these problems and school failures, single-parent families, family-related violence (other than the battered child), youth unemployment, gang activity, inadequate medical care — both preventive and remedial and other health and social problems. This correlation with youth crime led to a focus on some of the same problems that have been identified as factors in the perpetuation of the poverty cycle and discrimination.

Florida prosecutes more children in the adult criminal justice system than any other state.  The LWVLee seeks to improve outcomes for at risk youth in Lee County by supporting and influencing best practices and policies through education and advocacy.

We believe that the juvenile justice system of Florida should be administered by health and social service agencies and personnel. (c. 1976)

Issues for action:

Support the increased use of Civil Citations:  In the 2016 Stepping Up Report, the Caruthers Institute says: “There now is overwhelming data that juvenile civil citations generate superior results – increasing public safety, improving youth outcomes, and saving taxpayer money.”

Work to decrease the use of Direct File:  The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that Florida prosecutes more children in the adult criminal justice system than any other state. Since 2008 more than 13,000 children – some as young as 8 years old – have been prosecuted as adults in Florida through a process called DIRECT FILE!

Additional information on studies and resources