How Young Is Too Young to Face Arrest?
Criminals come in in all shapes and sizes though it may strain definition that we can count a six-year-old throwing a temper tantrum in an elementary school among them yet welcome to America in late. September two thousand nineteen a Florida cop arrested to grade schoolers slapped a pair of handcuffs on at least one of them and sent them off to be booked fingerprinted and have their mugshots taken taken both children again six year olds who misbehaved at school were charged with misdemeanor battery a bad day for Harried police officer well yeah maybe a bad day for schools and the juvenile justice system absolutely we spoke with Marsha Levick the chief legal officer for the Juvenile Law all center which bills itself as the country's first nonprofit public interest law firm for children she said does it get more ridiculous. It's absurd. It's it's a ridiculous abusive law enforcement power authority but it's also really unnecessary but all too common abdication on the part of schools and school districts teachers just defer their management of school misconduct to police the pure legality of charging a juvenile as young as six with crime varies across the United States to be clear a juvenile in forty five states plus the district of Columbia is anyone younger than seventeen in Georgia Michigan Missouri Texas and Wisconsin. It's anyone anyone younger than sixteen juvenile offender normally doesn't move through the criminal courts but through the juvenile justice system which has guided according to the office of Juvenile Justice some delinquency prevention quote by the concept of rehabilitation through individualized justice for more serious offenses though juveniles may be tried in criminal court wear if found guilty the court focuses on punishment not rehab of fifty one jurisdictions. That's the fifty states plus the District of Columbia thirty. The three have no lower level limit on holding a young person criminally accountable that excess that includes Florida in effect that means that an overzealous cop legally Wrigley can arrest even an unruly two year old of those eighteen other jurisdictions most put the lower level that a kid can be charged with a crime at ten years years old in those locations six-year-old like the two in Florida simply could not be arrested or charged with a crime levick said obviously it begs eggs the question how can that be. How can we possibly have created juvenile court system that allows for the possibility that six and seven year olds can be arrested. I think they never envisioned and six or seven year old would be hauled into court. I think that's a fair assumption. That's not who designed the system for so what happened in Florida a police Lisa Officer with Orlando's reserve unit arrested the two six year olds on separate misdemeanor battery charges on September nineteenth of two thousand nineteen one was a girl who lashed out in a Tantrum Trim that was brought on by a sleep disorder. The girl's family told The New York Times on Monday September twenty third the Orlando Police Department fired the officer who made the arrests for not following in protocol that required he'd get approval from his supervisor to arrest any minor younger than age twelve. No charges were filed against the two children. Cops in schools rules of course are not new. Florida is one of many states that has bumped up. Its police presence in schools over the years. The Florida legislature mandated it after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman when Douglas high school in Parkland claimed seventeen lives in February of two thousand eighteen the buildup of police in schools understandable in some ways. It's been more in twenty years since two students killed thirteen people and injured twenty one others at Columbine High School in Littleton Colorado since columbine up until April of this year America it has been through two hundred and thirty eight other school shootings according to a year long investigation by the Washington Post this increased show of force though does come with problems plums for one as the Orlando Sentinel points out citing report by the Education Week Resource Center black students are arrested at school at disproportionately high hi rate at least one of the children arrested in Orlando was black and as the recent news out of Orlando Shows Police School kids even elementary school kids just sometimes sometimes don't mix levick said we know where this is coming from. This fear of what happens when a child acts out in school. There's going to be some catastrophic consequence I am I need from Columbine for twenty years. We've been overreacting. I'm not aiming to trivialize schools being so quick. Call Law enforcement there obviously many situations nations in which that's appropriate but this is one that defies common sense most would agree that slapping cuffs on first graders probably is crossing the line zero-tolerance. Your tolerance certainly has its costs eleven said initially the thought was that there would be some rationality some reasonableness injected into the school environment would curb those extreme and absurd responses but it may be that trusting in waiting for commonsense to kick in isn't going to work it may be that it does require a legislative response. It's some movements across the nation aim to raise the minimum age that a child can be charged with a crime to twelve years old in some of those thirty three jurisdictions actions where no minimum ages set their calls to set something until then though school police officers may have to lean on something much less complicated than legislative action should when faced with a prepubescent troublemaker a deep breath. Maybe a countdown from ten and a little common sense.