Florida lawmakers have passed a new law that allows county sheriffs to put children - of any age - in adult jails. There, they could be exposed to abuse and all sorts of other unnecessary dangers. Deputies, who have no training in dealing with youth, are allowed to use mace and tasers and even be able to place children in isolation for days at a time. These jails are no places for our kids. Children held in adult jails could be assaulted, abused, and will receive little to no rehabilitative treatment or educational services. Even the American Jail Association passed a resolution – more than 20 years ago - condemning putting youth in adult jails.
Over 40 years ago, Florida developed standards and facilities specifically designed for troubled youth. This was in response to frequent incidents of children being raped, assaulted, and abused while being held in adult jails. But, if we don’t act, this new law will return our youth to those same horrible conditions.
Martin Lee Anderson’s death is a prime example of the abuse this law will force upon our children. Martin was 14 years old when he was beaten to death by guards at a facility operated by the local Sheriff’s office in Panama City. If we do not act to stop our children from being put into these jails– there will be many more Martin Lee Andersons in our state.
Please, stand up for our children and add your voice to protect them.
We, concerned citizens, parents, and clergy urge our County Commissioners to STOP any children from being placed in our county jails.