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After Two First Graders are Arrested in Orlando, Bill Seeks to Set Minimum Arrest Age

The program raises the minimum arrest age to 12. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons
The program raises the minimum arrest age to 12. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

A bill introduced in the Florida legislature would set a minimum age of arrest for children in Florida. 

It comes a month after two six-year-olds were arrested at an Orlando charter school by Orlando Police Officer Dennis Turner at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy.

The Orlando police officer who arrested the two children, Dennis Turner, was fired, and the children’s criminal records were cleared. 

Now State Senator Randolph Bracey is introducing a bill that would make it illegal to arrest a child under twelve years of age.

It would also put restrictions in place for arresting a children between the ages of 12 and 18 including in a school.

University of Central Florida’s Aubrey Jewett says if the bill passes the legislature, Florida would join 23 other states that have similar legislation. 

“There has been a movement in the criminal justice system to try to liberalize a little bit when it comes to minors. Some of that is because of court decisions. Some of that is because of actions that have been taken by local police.”

Jewett says the bill is part of a bipartisan push for criminal justice reform in the legislature since last spring. Resulting laws reduce the punishment for some non-violent offenses. 

“The thought is not just about youthful offenders, but really it’s about offenders overall particularly nonviolent offenders. How long they are sentenced and if we have the ability to allow some nonviolent offenders to get out?”
If you'd like to listen to Matthew Peddie's Intersection episode recorded after the arrests, click on the link.

If you'd like to listen to this story, please click on the clip above.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
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