Justice Harry Lee Anstead at the conference.

Supreme court justice calls for overhaul of juvenile court system

Miami, FL — March 30, 2000 — Florida’s overburdened juvenile justice system should be reformed and strengthened, Florida Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead recently said at a national training conference, Juveniles in Adult Court: Our Children, Our Future held in Miami. The conference focused on juvenile transfers to adult criminal court and treatment programs that work.

Justice Anstead made his remarks before more than 300 attorneys, social workers, judges and police officers from all over Florida and the United States attending the conference sponsored by Miami-Dade Public Defender Bennett H. Brummer.

“I am ashamed of what we have allowed to happen in the State of Florida to our juvenile courts,” the justice said. In his visits to different court jurisdictions around the state, Justice Anstead said he found that juvenile court is treated like the stepchild of the court system. Juvenile judges handle caseloads two and three times the caseloads of civil and criminal judges.

“My answer to the problem is to reform our juvenile courts,” he said. “I can tell you that my colleagues on the court and I are very serious about looking to fundamental reform in the juvenile court system. And I’m sure that with the prosecutors and the public defenders — led by such [people] as Bennett Brummer, who looks out beyond the narrow scope of his job description to what really is effective in the community — that we are going to reform the juvenile justice system.”

Justice Anstead also pointed out that Florida leads the nation in the number of children transferred to adult court. Some 20% of all youth transferred to adult court in the U.S. are from Florida.

“Florida doesn’t have 20% of the worst children in the United States,” Justice Anstead said.

 

 

  

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Law Offices of the Public Defender
Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida

 

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