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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

CHILDREN IN JAIL

The following is a letter from The Children's Campaign. It was forwarded to us (indirectly) by our Public Defender: Mr. Martinez.


May 23, 2011

The Honorable Rick Scott
Governor, State of Florida
Plaza Level
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL. 32399

Dear Governor Scott:

On behalf of the members and supporters of The Children’s Campaign, Florida’s most reliable and dependable child advocacy organization, I am registering our strong objection to SB 2112 regarding the detention of children in county jails and we urge you to veto it.

The history of The Children’s Campaign extends back to the time, longer than three decades ago, when children were detained regularly in county jails and lock-ups in Florida. The problems were numerous and often horrific and the State moved in a better child focused direction. We see no good outcomes extending from the policy change to be enacted by SB 2112. More to the point, we foresee many bad results, degrading the care and treatment of children along with the systemic complications emanating from this poorly thought out legislation.

The fact that the bill’s proponents are focused entirely on its purported cost savings and and not its impact on the care and treatment of children “in their best interest” should be a warning sign of serious enough gravity for you to act against it.

While cost is an important consideration, the treatment of children in a civilized society must extend beyond such narrowly focused factors.

For instance, the bill as written does not address consistency of treatment of children across the state. Are we to accept that children will be treated less well in one county than those in another? How is it in the best interest of children to be electronically monitored in a mod devoid of adult interaction as a cost saving option, thereby sacrificing opportunities for positive adult role-modeling at a time when the only adult interaction the child may be experiencing at home is one of abuse and neglect?

We do not agree that detention policy is only about holding a child securely until his or her appearance in front of the judge who decides whether to continue to detain or to release until the adjudicatory phase. Detention of children in Florida for example now extends an average of eleven days. It is an opportunity to infuse other helpful and supportive services as was proven in the Girls Advocacy Project.

Page Two – SB 2112 Veto Request Letter

The innovative GAP service assisted detained girls cope with their many difficulties and prepared them for a better life path. It also exposed histories of trauma and sexual abuse and mental health problems which would go undetected in the non-child focused county jail operations framed by SB 2112.

Further, we are horrified by the prospect that the county jail staff will not train by mandate in how to best treat and counsel children. Worse, the bill allows children to suffer the consequences of being shocked with powerful electronic devices and prodded with batons when non-coercive techniques would be best if employed by knowledgeable staff educated in child responsive strategies.

Recent legal decisions as far up as the United States Supreme Court have validated a child’s brain is not yet fully developed and sentencing of children must be different than that afforded to an adult. Yet, this bill if allowed to become law will subject children to an environment specifically architected and operated for adults and by adults with no background in child management.

Regarding legal issues, the Counties and the State of Florida should prepare themselves for the spate of lawsuits sure to come due to the mistreatment of children by untrained child care staff in county jails. Florida’s reputation will suffer along with its children who are subjected to these bad practices.

This bill was not vetted in public hearings. It was conceived and moved along during the frantic budget process and then agreed to by only two lawmakers in conference committee. The community has been denied the opportunity to speak directly to problems with its theory and implementation.

The framers of the legislation have not taken into account the havoc to be wrought when some counties “opt in” and others “opt out”. The implications for the operations of the Offices of the State Attorneys, Public Defenders and the Department of Juvenile Justice are profound. Children will be detained long distances away from legal counsel and their families, and, in some cases, even hundreds of miles as a result of the real-life operating scenarios to unfold if this bill is implemented. The extent of problems in disproportionate access, transportation, medical care and parental and family involvement have not yet fully come to light because the bill did not receive a proper airing during the legislative session.

With this bill the detention system for children in Florida will be neither state nor county. It will hover somewhere in between and children will experience the worst of both worlds.

We reiterate that the primary motivation for this bill by its sponsors and supporters is a move by the counties to reduce the amount of money they spend on children and, in this case, some of the most vulnerable among our youth population. Balancing county budgets to the detriment of vulnerable children is a bad practice in its own right and should be rejected.

As an alternative, we urge you to direct the Secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Wansley Walters, whose appointment and confirmation we supported, to address the current cost of detention to the counties, the past over-billing issues, and to develop a plan for resolving those issues in a manner that will not compromise the care of children by a system which is not uniform and is not child focused. This path will allow sufficient time to address the detention issue fully and transparently in the more appropriate substantive policy committees during the next session of the legislature.

SB 2112 should not go forward. It will make the lives of children worse, not better.

Page Three – SB 2112 Veto Request Letter

Sincerely,
Roy Miller

Roy Miller

President
The Children’s Campaign


18 comments:

Former Judge said...

I have watched the Casey Anthony trial opening statements all morning - the defense lawyer Jose Baez is doing a BRILLIANT job raising reasonable doubt. The defense is blaming the FATHER for the cover up and burying the baby - and saying that Caylee died as a result of drowning in the family pool. The defense is portraying the father as a cheating, lying husband and father who sexually abused the defendant. It sounds like an "Alan Soven" defense from the '90s, but Jose Baez is ripping the science and forensics with the use of experts like Dr. Lee.

My prediction is Defendant is found not guilty of any type of homicide! The State charges the father and puts him on trial .... and then Casey comes out and says the entire defense was a lie and that she murdered her baby - and then the father is nolle prossed - and Casey CAN'T be tried again because of DOUBLE JEOPARDY.

Sounds like Law and Order, but it will happen.

CAPTAIN said...

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

CASEY ANTHONY TRIAL OPENING STATEMENTS .....

I am sure you will all be watching Nancy Grace tonight for the latest news in the trial, but in case you did not hear about the breaking news:

Casey Anthony's defense attorney Jose Baez claimed in his opening statement that her 2-year-old daughter Caylee Anthony died in their family swimming pool on June 16, 2008.

He said Anthony never reported Caylee missing because she was never missing.

"We're not here to talk about how inappropriate Casey acted," Baez said. "We're here to find out exactly how Caylee died.

He went on to describe alleged sexual abuse Casey Anthony had sustained from her father George Anthony.

It's going to get very interesting!!!

Cap Out ...

Anonymous said...

Why shouldn't kids be in jail with adults. We need to let the rest of the United States know what ignorant savages we Floridians are.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather watch Fox or any of the evening network news stations. Nancy Grace hates defense attorneys and accused people and doesn't fairly report on the facts.

She still owes the 3 men from the Duke Lacrosse team an apology for smearing their names and jumping to the assumption that they are rapists.

The "victim" in that case was just indicted for first-degree murder of her boyfriend. No mention of that on Nancy Grace.

Anonymous said...

Boo hoo. Kids in jail. Maybe they will learn something.

old guy said...

Hard to tell if Baez was not EXACTLY like Soven in the case that got reversed.

State called the Dad first to say that everything that Baez said during opening was a lie.

Think that means that his client has to testify. Other than cry, what can she said about all her lies? After all, she told the cops the story about the babysitter kidnapping the child -- not exactly what her lawyer just told jurors.

Then she would have to explain the "partying" while her child was kidnapped.

Then she would have to convince jurors that she would rather have spent three years in jail waiting for trial than admit that the child accidentally drowned in Dad's pool - but she was afraid to tell that version [today's opening].

If the child died by accident, why was she not sad - instead of at the Orlando club scene?

So if the State got the Dad to deny his entire opening, and his client cannot testify...

JUST ANOTHER REASON NOT TO PROMISE TOO MUCH IN YOUR OPENING!!

Anonymous said...

Only a former Judge would opine that the defense is ripping the prosecution experts before ANY testimony is offered. Someone needs to kill Nancy grace . Really

Anonymous said...

Former Judge has made up his mind as to the outcome of the case based on the opening statements.

Sounds like a typical Miami juror.

Anonymous said...

Blogger

What u got to say about the heat now.

My Two Sons... said...

To 6:46 PM..Obviously you have never had children of your own. Your senseless comment permeates the Republican fervor in Tallahassee. Lumping children in with county jail adults is sadistic, cruel and in violation of the 8th Amendment. Florida can try to emulate Arizona as the capital of hatred and intolerance. How sad...

Anonymous said...

Agree with 10:13:00 PM. Defense promised too much. If they can't produce, the jury will see this as game playing and fry her!!

They still need to explain the duct tape on the child's mouth.

Sorry Judge (2:48PM), the opening was good TV, but not good lawyering, yet.

Anonymous said...

Affirmative defenses can be so dangerous. Since it's a death penalty case, perhaps a reasonable doubt defense can accomplish more, in the long run. However, I'll respect Baez's discretion since all I know is what I have been fed by the media.

P.S. Casey Anthony's initial reaction to the death of her child was so amazingly off kilter. I cannot imagine any juror will not focus on that.

Anonymous said...

Former ASA here:

Id say 90% of "children" that are being held in secure detention (which is a very small portion of those who are in the system) are candidates for the adult system. So let them go into the county jail for a little preview of what the future holds.

I'm not saying they should be held with adults and I'm not saying that the 13 year old kid who shoplifted from Walmart should be there. But for some kids, juvenile is the minor leagues for adult court.

Surferjohnson said...

I hear the fat lady singing Rumpy! HEAT are one win away from the NBA finals! Whatchu got to say now? Are you going to jump on the bandwagon when they win?

Anonymous said...

05-25-2011 Release
OPINIONS 08-3117
09-3295
HOMESTEDA AIR BASE V. MIAMI-DADE

11-0180
UNIVERSAL PROPERTY 7 CASULATY V. COLOSIMO & COLOSIMO

Something about the words HOMESTEDA and CASULATY just seems wrong to me.

Anonymous said...

No doubt children shouldn't be housed with adults in a jail or prison.

But the truth is that the Juvenile Justice system as it stands is horribly ineffective, and is in need of an influx of new ideas, treatments, therapies, and alternatives to what exists. As is, it is really just the minor leagues, prepping these kids for the big show.

Unfortunately I am sure that any new alternative to incarceration of children will not happen, because it is too soft on crime, or too expensive. As usual, the shortsighted view will prevail.

Anyone know what percentage of children who have contact with the Juvenile Justice system are then later arrested as adults, and how many are successfully diverted from reoffending?

I would guess very few are scared straight.

Anonymous said...

When I was a young pd I became friendly with Baez. It's nice too see him doing well and in the limelight. He was never in the favor of the 5th floor hater cabal. He is suffering now but all this luck and hard work will pay off in the long run.

Anonymous said...

I wish whoever wrote that letter could write!