July 25, 2021

Guest Column: Another missed opportunity for meaningful juvenile justice reform in Florida [The Florida Times-Union Jacksonville]

Tachana Joseph-Marc writes:

"Despite bipartisan support in the Legislature, Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed two bills, SB 274 and SB 166, that would’ve fostered much-needed changes to Florida’s juvenile justice system. SB 274 aimed to expunge the records of justice-involved youth who have completed a diversion program for any offense, and SB 166 would’ve ensured that those expunctions are exempt from public records and only available for specified purposes to some criminal justice agencies. The governor’s veto denies thousands of youths the opportunity to move forward without a label that can potentially taint the quality of their lives — from education to employment — for years, if not their whole lives.

The bills would not have compromised public safety because their provisions wouldn’t have covered every child with a record. Expunction would only occur for those with a non-arrest record due to their participation and completion of a diversion program, which is an alternative to entering or continuing in the formal juvenile justice system. Diversion programs such as teen courts and peer mentoring are operated by the judicial circuits. In fiscal year 2019-20, 7,154 youths participated in diversion programs statewide.


Tachana Joseph-Marc is a policy analyst at Florida Policy Institute in Orlando [emphasis added]."

read more on jacksonville.com

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