Legislators and court officials have traditionally focused on being “tough on crime” throughout the state of Florida. And this has not been limited only to adults. Prosecutors rarely want to show any favoritism, so they tend to charge individuals as strongly as possible so they can then justify any reduction in charges after a plea bargaining agreement has been reached. This has traditionally included juvenile cases until the past few years.
Why incarceration should be a final option
This stringent policy that has been applied to adults in the Florida court system has also been applied in many juvenile cases until recently. Teen juveniles were often charged as adults in any case closely resembling serious violations of the law. Following considerable lobbying from juvenile advocates who have said this is where the criminal revolving door begins, state courts decided to change this policy in handling juvenile criminal matters.
Deferment and counseling as the first option
The whole concept of dividing prosecution of adults and juveniles is based on the principle that juveniles are still in personal development and incarceration often makes matters worse for them going forward in life. Underage defendants should be given the benefit of the doubt in most cases unless the criminal charges are seriously heinous. Case deferment and juvenile counseling programs are much more effective according to advocates, and the prospects for rehabilitation are really the goal in juvenile case adjudication.
One goal is assuredly clear for all people concerned with juvenile prosecution. That goal is crafting young individuals into law-abiding productive assets to their community. The benefit of the doubt begins with a targeted education in behavior that many underage residents do not receive at home or even while in school. Putting them in jail as an adult has historically proven to not be an effective response from the state in reducing crime.