An increasing number of juvenile felony offenders in Florida have been routed to adult court in the past five years because of the severity of their crimes, reports the Orlando Sentinel. Experts say the rising number of transfers shows a juvenile-justice system ill-equipped to handle young violent offenders. The number of juveniles transferred to adult court has ebbed and flowed. In the early 2000s, the numbers were high and then declined. But by 2005, the numbers began steadily increasing.
University of Central Florida criminal-justice professor Kenneth Adams said the increase reflects a systemwide conundrum when dealing with violent repeat young offenders: The juvenile-justice system – oriented toward rehabilitating children – offers few alternatives for punishing young offenders who pose serious threats to the community, he said. “The whole purpose of the juvenile-justice system is rehabilitation,” said Carrie Lee, director of the Juvenile Justice Center at Barry University School of Law. “We try to keep them in the juvenile system as much as we can because exposing them to prison life is almost a guarantee they will be back.” About half of all youths who come in contact with the juvenile-justice system don’t reoffend, statistics show. When minors engage in violent crime, Adams said, often the only choice prosecutors have is to transfer serious offenders to the adult system.