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Alternative Sentencing for Juvenile Offenders
Some Florida programs are having success with alternative sentencing programs that avoid juvenile detention.

A recently retired Florida Juvenile Judge has written a book regarding the best strategies for rehabilitation of juveniles convicted of crimes. She believes that rather than merely throwing children in juvenile detention, rehabilitation and results-oriented programs that reduce the likelihood a prior offender will commit future crimes is the best solution for both the juvenile offenders and the community at large.

Judge Irene Sullivan, who presided over unified Family Courts in Pinellas County, Florida for 12 years, recently wrote an article for the Sun Sentinel highlighting a few programs she believes are successfully rehabilitating juveniles and preventing future crime. In Broward County, Florida, for example, non-violent, first-time misdemeanor offenders have options to avoid detention through:

 

  • Teen Court, in which teen peers sentence juvenile offenders who have acknowledged committing a misdemeanor with community service, a self-improvement community program, Teen Court jury duty, restitution, counseling, drug treatment and letters of apology
  • The Broward Sheriff's Community Justice program, whose services include Restorative Justice Conferencing, youth competency groups, victim empathy classes, gender-specific learning projects and supervised community service
  • Memorial Health Services Community Youth Services, who provide help to at-risk teens through counseling and residential programs
  • PACE Center for Girls, a nationally recognized program that uses education, counseling and advocacy to help keep girls out of the juvenile justice system
  • Statewide inpatient psych programs (SIPS) for offenders with mental health issues

 

While these programs are generally thought to be productive for juvenile offenders, they are often restricted to non-violent crimes. Many states will actually try juveniles as adults based on the seriousness of their crimes, for example if the charge is one of homicide.

Contact a Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or your child has been charged with a crime, contact a criminal defense attorney. An experienced attorney can help to negotiate for your child to reduce time spent in detention and more time spent in rehabilitation programs to help avoid later trouble.

Keywords: juvenile crime, alternative sentencing, community service
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