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Brooksville Juvenile Lawyer Says Reforms to Juvenile System in Florida Bill Should Go Farther
A bill in the Florida Senate will make changes to the state's laws on juvenile justice for the first time in more than a decade. Brooksville juvenile defense lawyer Ashley Aulls said that while it is a positive step, more can be done.
"The Florida juvenile justice system is certainly in need of reform," Aulls said. "While this bill is a step in the right direction, more needs to be done to help give kids a second chance and not wind up in the adult criminal justice system."
The bill, Senate Bill 700 by Sen. Rob Bradley of Orange Park, makes a number of changes to the Florida Statutes, most of which are in Chapter 985, "Juvenile Justice." Some of the major changes include:
· Instructing the Department of Juvenile Justice to care for children under its charge in the "least restrictive"
· Adding a section stating the importance of prevention programs and that the Department shall make efforts for community-based and faith-based programs;
· Allows the Department to establish evening reporting centers instead of placing the child in detention; and
· Allow for an "alternative consequence"
Aulls, who represents young people accused of crimes, including DUI, sexual offenses and drug charges, said the proposed changes are welcome, and may have a positive effect on juvenile justice.
However, he said a number of additions suggested by multiple nonprofit organizations, including the Children's Campaign, Voices for Florida, the James Madison Institute and the Southern Poverty Law Center, would improve the bill.
Some of those suggestions included:
· Shifting more resources to these community alternatives, away from detention and residential placement;
· Focusing on rehabilitation;
· Ensuring delinquency actions occur in juvenile courts, rather than adult criminal courts;
· Ensures confidentiality of juvenile records.
"An attorney can help make sure that a young person accused of committing a crime is treated fairly," Aulls said. "However, if the child is determined to have committed a criminal act, our system should work toward giving that young person a better shot at the rest of his or her life. The reforms proposed in SB 700 are a good start, but there's more we can do to make sure young people who make mistakes have a second shot."
Ashley Aulls, of the Law Office of Ashley Aulls, is a Brooksville criminal defense lawyer (http://www.aullslaw.com/
Law Office of Ashley Aulls