More students arrested in Florida than any other state

Many in Florida, including defense attorneys and juvenile justice advocates, are becoming increasingly worried about the large number of juvenile students who are arrested in schools. The thought is these kids are ending up being arrested for incidents that used to warrant a trip to the principal's office.

When looking at what is happening in many Florida schools, the majority of arrests are related to misdemeanors. In fact, 67 percent of the arrested in 2012 were for disorderly conduct, which can include everything from a student refusing to give up their cellphone to yelling. Only a very small percentage is related to crimes involving weapons.

In total, 12,000 students were arrested last year in Florida. For these students, even if the charges were eventually dropped, the arrest stays on their criminal record.

Scott Roberts, who is a campaign coordinator for the Advancement Project, is worried about the number of arrests. In Florida, even though there has been a decrease in the number of students arrested, the state still has more student arrests than any other state.

In looking at just who is being arrested, there is also concern regarding the high number of disabled and black students. Even though disabled students make up just 13 percent of the students in the public school districts, they make up 29 percent of the arrests. Black students, who make up 23 percent of the student body in the state; make up 47 percent of the arrests.

According to The Equity Project, this is not because certain demographics are misbehaving more. Rather, students are being punished more severely for minor offenses.

The concern is that arresting students and bringing them to detention centers is putting younger people into the criminal justice system that do not need to be there. This in turn can actually make their behaviors worse, not better.

Looking to the future, while some counties -- specifically Orange County -- continues to have high arrest numbers, the hope is that all schools in Florida will start to make decreasing juvenile arrests a real priority.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Thousands of student arrests alarm Florida justice leaders," Leslie Postal and Lauren Roth, Feb. 10, 2013

  • Our firm understands how frightening juvenile charges can be for parents and children. We also understand the serious implications these charges can end up having. To learn more, visit our Florida juvenile defense page.
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