Two Florida juvenile sex offenders are in seventh grade. Another is a sophomore in high school. Yet another, 18 years old, weighs 105 pounds and stands a bit over 5 feet tall. The Orlando Sentinel says a new state law requires posting their faces and addresses on the Internet along with adult rapists and pedophiles. Some experts say this goes against the purpose of juvenile court, where rehabilitation and confidentiality are key. Courts bar public access to the juveniles’ legal files, but their identities and addresses are available with a click of a mouse. “It’s contradicting years of juvenile-justice philosophy,” said Jill Levenson of Lynn University in Boca Raton, who studies sex offender issues.
The law, which took effect in July, expands the public sexual-offender registry to include teenagers who are found delinquent in juvenile court for a sexual activity by use of force or coercion. Adding juveniles to public sex-offender registries is encouraged by the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. It requires states to implement public registries — including juvenile sex offenders — by July 2009 or lose out on federal criminal-justice money. Three other states recently passed laws to comply. The law is named after Adam Walsh, a 6-year-old who was abducted from a Hollywood mall and killed in 1981.