Advocates See DeSantis Veto of Juvenile Records Bill as Missed Opportunity
Friday, July 9, 2021
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Republicans and Democrats alike are stunned by Gov. Ron DeSantis' veto of a bill they passed unanimously. It would've expanded the number of young Floridians eligible to have their criminal records expunged.
Top lawmakers and many criminal justice-focused organizations championed Senate Bill 274. But DeSantis said he's concerned that "the expungement of serious felonies, including sexual battery, from a juvenile's record, may have negative impacts on public safety."
Christian Minor, executive director of the Florida Juvenile Justice Association, believes the governor got bad information. Minor said state prosecutors don't send people accused of serious crimes to diversion programs.
"They have standards for offenses that qualify for a post-arrest diversionary programs in each judicial circuit," Minor explained. "So you don't see state prosecutors sending egregious and heinous offenses to post-arrest diversionary programs."
One group applauding the governor's veto is the Florida Police Chiefs Association. Minor, who helped craft the bill, noted they plan to regroup and do more to engage and educate the governor's office about the issue.
According to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, more than 45,000 juveniles were arrested in the state from 2019 to 2020. A disproportionate share are Black youths, at 50.9%. However, of the 8,800 who went through diversion programs in the same period, young white offenders outpaced Blacks who were eligible for the programs.
Minor thinks the governor missed an opportunity to turn thousands of lives around.
"That's 27,000 kids who had been referred to a state prosecutor to a post-arrest diversionary program, made good on their promise to complete it successfully and not get in any more trouble, and have their record expunged," Minor outlined.
Cosponsors of the bill include state Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gaineville, and Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, chairman of the Florida GOP. Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, and Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Ft. Lauderdale, sent a letter to Florida's Senate president, requesting a veto override.
get more stories like this via email
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Hispanic Heritage Month began this week, and will be celebrated through Oct. 15. Oregon has a rapidly growing Hispanic population…
SILVER SPRING, Md. -- As the Biden administration challenges a Texas law restricting abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, Planned Parenthood for …
CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Social Security, the program credited with lifting 15 million older residents in Wyoming and across the U.S. out of poverty…
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas has made some changes to its state rent relief program to make it easier to distribute assistance to residents…
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The historic clean-energy bill signed into Illinois law yesterday includes measures from closing coal and natural gas plants by 2…
INDIANAPOLIS -- A new coalition is forming to push back against predatory lending and urge state lawmakers to take action to protect consumers…
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- More than 200 high earners have written a letter urging Congress to raise taxes to help support social safety-net programs that …
Health and Wellness
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Limiting women's access to abortion and other reproductive health care can have a devastating impact on state economies. According …