No Longer Silent

The White House Boys speak out on abuses suffered at the hands of a Florida reform school.

South Florida Squeezes School-to-Prison Pipeline

South Florida’s Broward County School Board voted unanimously to sign new rules, written by many hands, which are meant to drive down arrests and their unintended consequences in the state’s second most populous school district. The Nov. 5 Memorandum of Understanding approved by the school board has its signatories promise “appropriate responses and use of resources when responding to school-based misbehavior.”

It Is Time for a Change, When Schools traumatize Kids

How we respond to young people when they make us mad can make or break them, emotionally and physically. Notwithstanding the studies showing genetic pre-disposition to alcoholism and other traits, we enter this world with a blank slate. We are born with great potential to do wonderful things and experience that happiness as referenced in the Declaration of Independence. Despite our inalienable right to pursue happiness, this pursuit is thwarted for many children and young people who are traumatized at the hands of their parents or caretakers through abuse, neglect, violence and other toxic stressors. The blank slate brought into the world gets filled with some pretty ugly scribbling that makes it difficult for the rest of us to understand, including the child.

Success in Juvenile Justice Diversions May Influence Treatment of Adult Offenders in Florida

In October, officials in one Florida community announced that its local police force would now have the ability to issue civil citations in lieu of formal arrests for certain crimes. The Leon County, Fla., measure targeting a largely adult-offender base takes many cues from the state’s juvenile justice system, which has seen vast improvements to juvenile crime rates due to lock-up alternatives. According to the News Service of Florida  proponents of a statewide movement issue more citations to and arrest fewer adult offenders – if the individual has committed a non-violent crime and has no previous arrest record -- claim that such a policy would save the state tens of millions of dollars in annual incarceration expenses. Tentative plans would require adult offenders in Leon County - which contains the state capital of Tallahassee - to undergo an assessment within three days of a citation, in addition to performing community service or receiving substance abuse treatment if it may have been a contributing factor to the crime. Leon County officials began issuing civil citations for non-violent juvenile offenders in 1995.

Focus on the Infant while Understanding Teenage Parents

If you’ve worked with, defended, advocated for or made decisions about at-risk youth, you’ve surely run into the difficult problem of teenagers becoming parents themselves. As a juvenile judge in Florida, I remember becoming frustrated at the apparent immature, selfish, unrealistic and irresponsible behavior displayed by these young moms and dads in dealing with life’s most important task: raising a child. But, you know what? I often forgot about the baby. In my haste to modify probation and curfew to allow, in fact encourage, these young parents to accept an equal responsibility for their infant or toddler, I often ruled without considering the newborn’s needs.