By: Lanetra Bennett
April 17, 2013
Tallahassee, FL - A bill protecting teens from abuse by staff in lock-ups has passed the Criminal Justice Committee. But, a group of college students is pushing to make sure the bill goes all the way.
"We're not here for numbers and fame, we're here because of our campaign for juvenile justice."
That's a part of a speech a FAMU student spoke to encourage other fellow students that though small in number, they can make a big impact.
The group Dream Defenders and other college students met at FAMU's Eternal Flame Wednesday to march to the Florida Capitol.
The group is asking lawmakers to pass Senate Bill 2112. It repeals the law allowing Florida counties to run their own juvenile justice facilities.
FAMU student Melanie Andrade says, "What this has allowed as for kids to be pepper-sprayed, for kids to be maced and even put in solitary confinement for six to nine months at a time. I saw firsthand the criminalization."
Andrade is from Polk County where the law started. She says, "It just made me realize if the police can step in between a parent and their children, which indeed the sheriffs in Polk County have been able to do d that; out of fear, the parents actually fearing retaliation from the police and the sheriff. They don't speak up for their children."
The Dream Defenders are speaking for them.
FAMU student Evan Bailey says, "If we collectively work together toward a common goal as we are now, we can definitely, definitely get things accomplished."
Press Release: Dream Defenders FAMU Chapter
WHO: Dream Defenders from Florida A&M University and Florida State University, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and community members.
WHAT: A student-led march to the Capitol followed by lobbying to Governor Rick Scott, House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz.
WHEN: Wednesday April 17, 2013. Leaving the Eternal Flame @ 10:30 a.m.
Arriving @ the Capitol at 11:00 a.m.
WHERE: Florida A&M University | 2400 Wahnish Way | The Eternal Flame
The Florida Capitol | 400 S Monroe St, Tallahassee, FL 32399
WHY: Dream Defenders are a part of a statewide coalition pushing for juvenile justice reform called the Florida Campaign for Juvenile Justice. The FCJJ supports legislation that protects children from the school-to-prison pipeline as well as provides basic protections to juveniles who are being housed in juvenile facilities.
The bills the Dream Defenders and FCJJ are pushing are (SB 506/HB 4021 and SB 882/HB 947) Protect all Children in Secure Detention, (SB 1374/HB 1039) Stop Arresting Children at School for Minor Incidents, (SB 660/HB 603) Protect all Children from Entering the Juvenile Justice System for 1st Time Misdemeanors, (SB 812) Limit Incarcerated and Detained Children’s Exposure to Solitary Confinement and (HB959) Youth in Solitary Confinement..
“We want our leaders to support these important juvenile justice reforms, and call on the Speaker and President to have these bills heard. Our legislature has proven time and again that when bills are supported by leadership, three weeks is plenty of time to get legislation to the Governor’s desk. We need their leadership now to protect Florida’s children,” Elijah Armstrong, President of FAMU Chapter of Dream Defenders.