Warren proposed alternatives to charging juveniles as adults
Andrew Warren wants Hillsborough County to charge fewer juveniles as adults.
On Tuesday, the Democratic candidate for state attorney issued a news release proposing the increased use of specialized juvenile courts, school discipline initiatives, and other programs that operate outside the criminal justice system as a way of managing juvenile crime.
The release cited studies that have found that charging juveniles as adults - a practice referred to as "juvenile direct filing" - does not reduce crime. It also points specifically to a 2014 study by Human Rights Watch, which found Hillsborough County has one of the highest rates of direct filing in Florida, and leads the state in the number of juveniles sent to adult prisons. The same study detailed racial disparities among juveniles who are charged as adults.
“We need to do a better job steering juvenile, non-violent offenders away from the downward spiral of the criminal justice system,” Warren said in a news release. “We should be tough on serious juvenile offenders and always hold people accountable for their actions. But treating kids who commit minor offenses like adult criminals only furthers the revolving door criminal justice system. And it makes our neighborhoods less safe.”
Warren's proposal follows an earlier call he made for the expanded use of juvenile civil citations, a tactic he said is under-utilized in Hillsborough County.
Warren faces Mark Ober, the incumbent state attorney, in the Nov. 8 election. Ober, a Republican, has been state attorney since 2001. Warren's entry into the race is the first time Ober has faced a reelection challenge in years.