Two weeks ago we applauded the efforts of Rep. Katie Edwards (D-Plantation) to reform the Criminal Justice system as it deals with juveniles in a logical and humane way. HB 783 will likely be given a hearing this coming week in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. The legislation which as we outlined in our previous discussion provides remedies for juveniles in the Criminal Justice system. The legislation would restore the ability of judges in some cases to have a role in deciding which juvenile cases that are eligible for transfer to adult court should be tried there. Under current law, prosecutors have the sole discretion to decide which cases end up in adult court.
The legislation has a broad base of multi-ideological and bipartisan support. Multiple groups that are disparate in philosophy and thought are backing changes to the law. This includes the Southern Poverty Law Center and Human Rights Watch. Additionally, the conservative James Madison Institute has even issued a policy paper that calls for similar reforms. But for some lawmakers that isn’t good enough. We can report that a multiple legislators including a few Democrats are being swayed by State Attorney’s including the infamous conservative Angela Corey. Yes, that Angela Corey – of Marisa Alexander and George Zimmerman shame.
Some State Attorney’s love trying children as adults and don’t want the naturally fair checks and balances of the judiciary restored. They don’t want judges in certain cases to be able to have a degree of oversight in what cases go to adult courts. This sort of regressive thinking is part of what has made Florida a national laughing stock.
The question for progressive lawmakers sitting on the fence regarding this bill matter is how could any progressive lawmaker oppose needed pragmatic reforms to the way this state prosecutes juveniles? It is critically important that those lawmakers who claim to be compassionate and progressive consider why the advancement of this sort of legislation is sorely needed.
We will continue to track this bill and the back and forth related to it in the coming days.