Children in Florida are only shielded from arrest until the age of seven. After then, they may be held accountable for violent actions, such as domestic disputes and disruptions. Young girls who become involved in the juvenile court system confront particular difficulties that could completely ruin their lives. In accordance with a recent analysis from the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center and the American Children’s Campaign, Florida’s public services and criminal justice system ought to be doing more for girls involved in the judicial system.
Despite a previous report from 2008 that highlighted the shortcomings of Florida’s juvenile justice system and garnered support from the system’s various stakeholders, the authors of the study wrote that progress had been slow in areas like ensuring girls’ rights to fair and equitable treatment and shielding them from violence in detention facilities.
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We Have Failed to Protect the Rights of Girls.
The report concluded that “despite our gains, we have failed to protect [these] rights for thousands of Florida girls.” “Girls’ needs continue to demonstrate that more needs to be done to safeguard their wellbeing. There are still few community-based services and jail alternatives available. According to the center’s Status of Girls research series, which examined the needs of girls in every county in Florida, one in ten girls report having been raped, and one in three say they don’t feel safe at school. The research stated that it is crucial for system decision-makers to comprehend the part that trauma and violence exposure play in girls’ behaviour and engagement in juvenile justice
The punitive and unified response of the system, the report’s authors claim, “too frequently causes greater injury and derails girls’ prospects instead of treating the trauma that is paving the trail into the legal system.” The writers used interviews with several affected girls as a guide for bringing about change. “Each girl is unique; some girls heal quickly and others don’t. Some people are able to understand, while others are not. One girl told researchers that while some people show respect, others don’t. You must have patience to assist them.
Florida’s performance on significant policy benchmarks and goals was rated as part of a report card that was included in the center’s strategy. The positive Several legislation addressing the treatment of children, girls, and victims of commercial sexual exploitation have been successfully passed in Florida. The Safe Harbor Laws of Florida guarantee that children who have been trafficked are not treated like criminals and forbid their placement in “secure detention.”
Inmates who are pregnant are not permitted to be chained, and regulations allow juvenile records to be secretly safeguarded until they are eventually purged at the age of 21.Between 2008 and 2019, Florida had a 66 percent drop in arrests and a 67 percent drop in incarceration, but the state lagged in other significant areas of growth. However, Florida has failed to construct a probationary system that assigns girls to female case managers, support community-based alternatives for jailed girls, or limit incarceration for girls who don’t pose a threat to public safety.
When those programmes are credibly accused of abuse and neglect, the Center urges Florida to reevaluate charges for girls in residential commitment who receive further charges. The Center is still urging the state to form a legislative task force to address the needs of girls involved in the juvenile justice system, working in tandem with other state agencies, the state’s courts, and mental health service providers. Updated policy suggestions from the Policy Center and the American Children’s Campaign for the state of Florida are based on five key tactics:
- Pass legislation to prevent girls and children from being involved in the juvenile court system;
- the “institutionalized traumatization” of girls; and improve the conditions of detention;
- maintain data monitoring and accountability;
- Fund specialised and crucial girl-centered programmes.
- Require stakeholder training and standards focused on girls.
- The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center engages in four types of intervention
- girls involved in the juvenile justice system: research, advocacy, training, and model programmes.