Everyone makes mistakes, but not all Floridians understand the many phases young people can go through. Younger minds are susceptible to external influences, and can easily become wrapped up in a situation far too complex to understand. When a young person becomes involved in a juvenile crime, there are often many sides to the story.
In some cases, one thoughtless crime can result in the end of one's freedom entirely. ABC News considers the strictness of penalties for juvenile crime, bringing to attention the 1999 case of Lionel Tate, a Florida native who killed his 6-year-old friend while wrestling. Tate was 12 at the time of the incident, but was tried as an adult under a 1981 Florida statute. Although the numbers of juvenile murder arrests have plummeted in the last few decades, ABC points out that Florida nevertheless has the second-highest juvenile violent crime rate in the country. Some lawmakers have demanded a reassessment of the state's strict laws, arguing that its views on juvenile maturity are severely antiquated.
Over the years, there have been countless studies on the laws surrounding juvenile crime. As the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice shows, those studies can come with many misconceptions about the state's juvenile justice system. For instance, many hold the traditional belief that strict punishment such as boot camp is the ideal solution for problem teens; however, the Department clarifies that front-end community-based services can be more effective, especially among "high needs" youth. Another common misconception involves the duration of time younger offenders should spend in correctional programs. The Department shares that, contrary to popular belief, an increased stay at a residential program does not reduce the likelihood of another offense. There are a myriad of other myths surrounding juvenile crime, but the Department's message is clear: America's youth may need more time and understanding than severe, long-lasting punishment.