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Inadequate Representation in the Juvenile Court System

By: Christina Vitale
By: Christina Vitale

A family sits in court as their son is sentenced. The mother of the juvenile offender claims after one year in the juvenile court system, the public defender still hasn't taken the time to get to know their son.

Babara Porter said, "Maybe their caseload is too much, but they need to cut down on it so they can have more proper time to spend with these children."

The National Juvenile Defender Center recognizes the problem, particularly in Florida. A recent study points out a few key issues. Heavy caseloads, inexperienced attorneys, and juveniles pleading guilty without realizing how severe consequences can be.

Public Defender Nancy Daniels says add to that some unnecessary restraints.

"Kids as young as eight, 11, 10 years old charged with non-serious crimes were brought into court with three different types of shackles on them."

Porter says all of these issues add up challenging the future of her child.

"He's facing a lot. He's violated twice and if they'd have done what I asked them to do in the first place, send him some place to get some behavioral help, then he wouldn't have went through all of this."

Public defenders and parents agree that there is a problem. Public defenders are using the report to seek more funding for the juvenile sector during next year's legislative session.


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