Destined to Fail: How Florida’s Jails Deprive Children of Schooling

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Author(s): Southern Poverty Law Center

  • Shalini Agarwal
  • Lisa Carmona
  • Maya Goldman
  • Lisa Graybill
  • Carla Laroche
  • Michelle Llosa
  • Asim Lynch
  • Scott McCoy
  • Zoe Savitsky
  • Jessica Zagier Wallace

Edited by Jamie Kizzire and Booth Gunter

Published: Feb. 12, 2018

Report Intro/Brief:
Florida prosecutes more children in the adult criminal justice system than any other state, and as a consequence, hundreds of children are held in adult county jails every year. In the majority of cases, the decision to prosecute a child as an adult is made by the prosecutor, without judicial review or an individual assessment of the child’s potential for rehabilitation. As a result, children as young as 12 have been incarcerated with adults. Many have not been found guilty, but are merely waiting for their cases to be adjudicated. While imprisoned, children still have rights under state and federal law to access education – a critical factor in their future. And with good reason: The further they fall behind, the less likely they are to become productive members of society.

Unfortunately, children in adult jails are being denied these rights as Florida’s jails and school districts are not living up to their legal obligations. The educational services they provide to children held in adult jails are, in most cases, seriously deficient. For some children, the services are virtually nonexistent. Adult jails are simply not intended or equipped to house children.

For this review, which began in 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center submitted public records requests to school districts across the state, spoke with public defenders and advocates, examined data from the U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Data Collection, and interviewed children who are or have been held in county jails in Florida. The findings are troubling…”



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