Florida NAACP Calls on State Legislators to Reject Juvenile Detention Bill

SB 2112 would allow counties to warehouse youth in adult correctional facilities

(Tallahassee, FL) – The National Office of the NAACP and the Florida State Conference of the NAACP calls on Florida State legislators to protect children by voting against the SB 2112 when brought to a final vote. Currently the bill sits with the Conference Committee and is expected to be voted on this week. The NAACP also calls on the Department of Justice to monitor and ensure the safety of the youth of Florida and to guarantee that young people have the opportunity for rehabilitation.

The Juvenile Detention Facilities bill (SB 2112) will allow county governments to operate their own detention facilities so long as they cover the financial cost of detention care for pre-adjudicated juveniles. However, for many counties this will allow the detaining of children in adult facilities instead of juvenile detention centers.

“Protecting our youth is a basic human right” stated Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the National NAACP. “Allowing youth to be warehoused in adult facilities will cripple the development of young people in Florida for generations.”

Bills such as SB 2112 do not see these troubled youth as worth rehabilitating. Allowing counties to force these young people into facilities made for adult offenders does not accurately address the problems young people face, and will cost the state money in corrections spending should these youth fall into a life of repeat offenses.

“We must have specialized facilities, dedicated resources, and a determined focus on the rehabilitation of these troubled young people,” stated Adora Obi Nweze, President of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP. “Only by addressing the causes for their actions can young people be rehabilitated to lead healthy, productive lives and remain out of the correctional system in the future. While the bill attempts to consolidate resources for the county, it does so at the expense of our youth.”

The proposed Florida legislation is in direct opposition to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 2002, which clearly defines the need for specialized facilities, resources, and supervisors who can address the needs of these troubled young people. This bill allows Florida counties a loophole to the federal legislation demanding the rehabilitation of our youth for their betterment and that of our communities. Furthermore, there is no provision to ensure the educational and treatment needs of these children.

Florida advocates also fear that SB 2112 is in direct violation of the Martin Lee Anderson Act, which was passed to keep young people in state facilities safe.

“It was just three years ago when video evidence surfaced of the brutal beating and death by Sherriff deputies of Martin Lee Anderson-- who was in a county led boot camp facility--said Dale Landry, Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee for the Florida State Conference of the NAACP. SB 2112 would put young people back in the hands of county governments without requiring proper training and accommodations, therefore refusing to learn the lessons behind the death of Mr. Anderson.”

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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