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3 juveniles charged with trashing Deerfield Beach school

When kids grow up without a sense of belonging to a community, and interact with the world primarily through a computer screen, they can become alienated. And sometimes that sense of alienation, of not belonging, results in mindless violence. That may have been a factor in a recent incident in which three juveniles were arrested and charged with vandalizing a private school in Deerfield Beach.

According to authorities, the three broke into St. Ambrose Catholic School and did some serious property damage. They threw paint around, vandalized vending machines, broke some furnishings and sprayed fire extinguishers. They also made a meal for themselves, which proved their undoing; detectives used the DNA they left on some utensils to identify them. A school official also recognized the three on a surveillance video.

The three now face multiple charges. An incident like this could have serious long-term consequences for them, especially if they are tried in adult court. The first priority of defense counsel will be to keep them in the juvenile law system. After that, if the evidence against them is strong, the goal should be to get them into a juvenile diversion program, where they can get some rehabilitation and learn some lessons about becoming a responsible member of society.

One such diversion program is called Black History Boot Camp, and it was started by a defense attorney who works for the State of Florida's Office of Conflict Counsel, representing underprivileged youths accused of crimes. The kids go on field trips, plant gardens, and generally get away from the video games and the computer screens. The idea is to get them out in the world and give them a sense of community. When the kids complete the program, their record is cleared. For those facing juvenile charges, a program like this could be a lifesaver. It may not save every troubled kid, but it will save some and it will do them a lot more good than being sent to an adult prison.

Source: CBS Miami, "3 Kids Accused Of Vandalizing Broward School," July 1, 2013

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Andrew M. Coffey has been recognized as a Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer by the Florida Bar. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida.

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