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Children jailed on juvenile offenses waiting far too long

A recent news article has shed light on a disturbing reality within the Florida juvenile justice system. Children who are being charged with juvenile offenses are being held for excessive periods of time within juvenile facilities, and they are essentially serving unofficial sentences while they wait for their day in court. The story has sparked debate across the state and has many standing up and demanding change.

In the Jacksonville area, more than 100 children have been held in detention for far longer than the law intends. Making matters even worse, the facility where they are housed is often overcrowded and has a high rate of fights breaking out within its walls. The same facility also has the worst statistics in the state for children being given the wrong medication from staff members.

State law holds that children who are accused of a crime should only be held for 21 days before heading to court, and that number is raised to 30 days for some serious charges. However, 26 percent of stays within that facility in the past year exceeded those guidelines. Those who oppose these extended stays argue that detention is a traumatic experience and is basically a "crime school" for those incarcerated.

When considering this issue, it is also important to remember that not every juvenile accused of a crime is ultimately found guilty. This means that there are children being housed within these facilities who have done nothing wrong, but who are being housed with those who have committed violent crimes. For Florida parents who have children within the juvenile justice system, it is important to formulate a strong legal response as soon as a child is charged with juvenile offenses.

Source: The Florida Times-Union, "Waiting for justice: Jacksonville children are in detention longer than Florida law intends", Topher Sanders, Oct. 27, 2014

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