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90.7 WMFE series examines why Orange County leads the state in juvenile arrests

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YOUNG & ARRESTED SERIES STARTS MARCH 27

Reporter Renata Sago looks into why Orange County has highest number of juvenile arrests in the state for last 3 years, majority of whom are black

ORLANDO — Starting Monday, March 27, during Morning Edition, 90.7 WMFE reporter Renata Sago will take listeners on a multimedia journey into Orange County’s complex system for handling kids who commit crimes. According to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Orange County processes the highest number of juvenile arrests statewide. The majority of those arrests are felonies charged to black boys.

“These are kids that don’t need so much an arrest as they need some understanding,” said Robert Wesley, Public Defender, 9th Judicial Circuit Orange and Osceola County.

In a five-part series called Young and Arrested, Renata Sago will document the pathways into the system in Orange County through the lens of three young black men charged with felonies. The series will feature prominent and lesser known voices from within Orange County and across the state, including law enforcement, school officials and community leaders.

90.7 WMFE reporter Renata Sago is available for media interviews. Please email us to schedule.

Some statistics:

  • According to the Department of Juvenile Justice, Orange County has had the highest number of juvenile arrests in the state for the past three years: 6,690 in 2013-2014, 7,003 in 2014-2015, 6,547 in 2015-2016
  • 2% of those arrests are for crimes considered felonies
  • Black kids make up 62% of those arrests for crimes considered felonies.
  • Juvenile arrests in Florida are at a 40-year low BUT Orange County stands out for its high number of arrests. This is attributed to a high recidivism rate.
  • A Human Rights Watch report found that black boys in Florida were disproportionately sent to prison whether for first- or second-time offenses from 2008 to 2013.

Prominent voices in the series:

  • Jeff Ashton, former state attorney for the 9th Circuit
  • Jerry Demings, Orange County Sheriff
  • Christina Daly, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice secretary
  • Leroy Pernell, Florida A&M University Professor of Law
  • Robert Wesley, Public Defender, 9th Judicial Circuit Orange and Osceola County
  • Bill Sublette, Orange County School Board Chair
  • Samantha & Christopher Wallace, Man Up Mentoring

Quotes:

I’ve become very concerned … of the willingness to forego treatment of children as children. We lock up more people for longer periods of time and at earlier ages than anywhere else in the civilized world. – Leroy Pernell, Florida A&M University Professor of Law

Our kids aren’t worse than kids in Jacksonville or Palm Beach. Miami kids aren’t more angelic than our kids. These are kids that don’t need so much an arrest as they need some understanding. – Robert Wesley, Public Defender, 9th Judicial Circuit Orange and Osceola County

We cannot close our eyes and say that it’s not happening. The fact that it’s disproportionately black or minority, well that’s a travesty for us as a society. That’s not a police problem. – Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings

Do not miss this compelling in-depth reporting Monday, March 27 through Friday, March 31, during Morning Edition on 90.7 WMFE. Listen at 90.7-FM, at wmfe.org or through the 90.7 WMFE mobile app, available for Apple or Android devices.

A series of photographs from photographer Joey Roulette will complement the audio storytelling, available online at wmfe.org.

ABOUT 90.7 WMFE: 90.7 WMFE is a non-profit, member-supported, community-based public broadcasting company that operates 90.7 WMFE-FM, metro Orlando’s primary provider of NPR programming; and 90.7-2 Classical. Part of the community since 1980, WMFE focuses on providing quality national and local news and programming. Visit wmfe.org to learn more.

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If you would like more information about this topic or would like to set up an interview with reporter Renata Sago, please contact Jenny Babcock at jbabcock@wmfe.org or 407-273-2300 ext. 112.

Photos for download:

90.7 WMFE reporter Renata Sago at the Orange County Juvenile Assessment Center



 

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