Florida Public Defenders Association

Mitchell Haindfield / Flickr

In Florida a court can sentence a person under the age of 21 as a youthful offender. If a court does so that person can only receive a maximum sentence of six years. But the court process can take time. Public Defender Carey Haughwout says a bill moving through the legislature makes sure people aren't penalized by the delay.

The inside of the Florida Senate Chamber
Florida Memory

The Florida Senate is considering more juvenile justice legislation. It’s looking at measures classifying certain kids as prolific offenders and changing sentencing for juveniles who commit felonies.

Florida Channel

Bills to help some of the state’s most vulnerable Floridians as well as youthful offenders have passed their first Senate committee.

Republican House leaders say it’s just a budget-cutting exercise, but the head of the Florida Public Defenders Association isn’t convinced.


Murder witnesses’ personal information would be exempt from Florida’s public records laws under a bill that passed its first House committee Wednesday.

MGN Online

A bill aimed at decreasing the number of juveniles charged as adults is still alive in the Florida Senate, after narrowly passing its first committee Monday.

Florida Channel

As a number of criminal justice issues continue to move in the Florida Legislature, others may be dead this session. That includes a Senate effort to build on past prison reforms.

Florida Channel

A bill initially aimed at protecting the witnesses to a felony crime has now gone through another change in the House, after passing a second committee.

MGN Online

A bill making changes to Florida’s 10-20-Life law is now heading to the Senate floor, after passing its last committee Thursday.


Florida lawmakers are considering different ways to help the state’s juvenile offenders. The aim is to help them succeed in life and make sure they don’t head to the prison system.

MGN Online

Florida lawmakers are hoping to continue moving a bill forward aimed at changing Florida’s minimum mandatory sentencing rules. It comes on the heels of a recent decision by the state’s Executive Board to reject a request to release a Florida man early from prison, who fired a warning shot and received a 20 year prison sentence.


A measure expunging the criminal records of certain juveniles cleared its first House panel Tuesday.

MGN Online

A bill changing Florida’s minimum mandatory sentencing rules passed its first Senate panel Monday.


Several bills aimed at reforming Florida’s juvenile justice system cleared another hurdle in the House Monday.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

A bill allowing someone to threaten to use force in a situation where they feel threatened without fear of prosecution is expected to be discussed on the Senate Floor this week.  And, the so-called “warning shot” bill that was modified at each committee stop may go through another change on the floor.

MGN Online

Based on two separate Supreme Court decisions, state lawmakers are now tasked with reforming Florida’s juvenile sentencing laws. But, the Senate’s latest revamp is drawing mixed reviews.

According to the federal court decisions from 2010 and 2012, juveniles cannot be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole or some kind of review. That’s regardless of their crime whether they committed a serious felony or convicted of murder. But Florida’s state laws haven’t caught up.

MGN Online

A measure inspired by the story of a Jacksonville woman who received a lengthy prison term for firing a warning shot unanimously cleared another Senate hurdle Tuesday. It’s the second time around for the so-called “Warning Shot” bill in that same committee.

Last month, the bill got held up after undergoing multiple changes and time ran out in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. So, on the first day of the 2014 Legislative Session, Baker Republican Senator Greg Evers got a second chance to vet his bill.

MGN Online

A bill seeking to increase the number of jurors in cases where the accused could face a life sentence is now beginning to move in both chambers of the Florida Legislature. But, it’s an issue that’s pitting the state’s public defenders and prosecutors against one another.

Currently, only capital cases require 12-person juries in Florida. Orlando Democratic Representative Randolph Bracy’s bill would expand that to include those that could result in life imprisonment. The bill has the support of Florida Public Defenders Association.

MGN Online

Florida lawmakers are holding off on a bill revising the minimum mandatory penalties for the trafficking of certain illegal drugs, after questions were raised in its first Senate hearing Monday.

Tampa Democratic Senator Arthenia Joyner says her bill allows a judge not to impose the three-year minimum mandatory penalty for a first offense of trafficking small amounts of illegal drugs, including cocaine or LSD. She says judges currently only have that discretion with juvenile offenders.

Florida Channel

Florida lawmakers say they’re not giving up on a failed effort to address juvenile sentencing reform. They’re responding to two U.S. Supreme Court decisions ruling juveniles cannot face a life sentence without the possibility of parole, even if they committed a serious felony or murder. But, the legislative effort to do that is contentious as some spar over whether these juveniles deserve a second chance.

Ex-Juvenile Offender Gets Second Chance

When Ellis Curry was 16-years-old, he was convicted of murder and armed robbery.

A bill that aims to make Florida parents take more responsibility over their juvenile kids who commit a crime is expected to be taken up Tuesday in its second committee stop. But, the measure could look a little different, after concerns were raised at its last stop about how different parts of the bill could negatively impact parents.

Republican Representative Dane Eagle of Cape Coral says he was driven to file the bill (HB 785) as a result of an e-mail from one of the people he represents in his district.

Florida lawmakers are looking to streamline the death penalty process to avoid the lengthy appeals they say are currently plaguing the system. Two measures aiming to do just that cleared another committee Thursday, and are one step closer to coming up for a vote by the full Legislature.

Most states in the nation impose the death penalty. Florida is one of them, but it’s also a state that’s known for its lengthy death penalty process. It’s behind only California, the state in the nation with the most number of people facing the death penalty.

Florida is one of the top states in the nation with the most number of people facing the death penalty—Close to half of which have been on death row for at least 20 years. And, a group of lawmakers is now trying to streamline the death penalty process through a couple of measures, but it’s facing much opposition.