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Decline of Juvenile Arrests In Florida During Pandemic

Reviewer: Katie Siciliano, PD9 Legal Intern

 

Articles to be reviewed:

Orlando Sentinel – “Florida’s juvenile arrests drop to 45-year low”

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/crime/os-ne-2020-juvenile-arrests-florida-drop-20201123-sdsv36nwzzhg3d2eyvyfxjxfsu-story.html 

 

WFTS Tampa Bay – “Juvenile arrests in Florida continue to decline amid pandemic”

https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/local-news/i-team-investigates/juvenile-arrests-in-florida-continue-to-decline-amid-pandemic

 

Summary:

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has reported that the 2019-2020 fiscal year showed a drastic decrease in juvenile arrests. DJJ reported a historic 17% decrease in juvenile arrests from the 2018-2019 fiscal year. These “abnormally low” numbers appear to have strong ties to the number of students staying home during the pandemic. There has been a gradual decrease over the last five years but this year was unprecedented.

Children Under the Age of Ten:

  • Florida is one of the few states that does not have a minimum age of arrest for children.
  • In the 2018-2019 FY, there were 124 arrests of children under the age of 10.
    • This figure includes five 6-year-olds and one 5-year-old.
  • In the 2019-2020 FY, this number was down to 92 children under the age of 10, including only one five-year-old and one six-year-old.
  • Florida State Senator Bracy attempted to file a bill that would ban detaining children under the age of 12 but it did not make it past committee.

Lowest Juvenile Arrest in 45 years:

  • DJJ reported that Florida dropped to a 45-year low in juvenile arrests last year.
  • With school closings and more children being forced to stay home, juvenile arrests are at an all-time low.
  • While there have been steady decreases in the past five years, there is no doubt this drastic drop is due to the pandemic.
  • From April to June, when the pandemic first hit and schools shut down, Florida saw a 44% decrease in juvenile arrests.
  • DJJ reported that there would have been a downward trend despite the pandemic but the double-digit decline was no doubt associated with children being unable to attend school or leave their home.
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