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SENATOR ARTHENIA JOYNER BILL FILES LEGISLATION TO STOP ABUSE OF JAILED CHILDREN
TALLAHASSEE – State Senator Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) on Thursday announced the filing of legislation designed to protect children in adult jails from adult jail treatment.
“Dumping low-risk children into jails with convicted adults doesn’t improve public safety,” said Senator Joyner. “These kids – some as young as 8 years old – aren’t sitting in these jails learning skills to help keep them out of trouble, they’re learning precisely the opposite.”
At issue is legislation passed in 2011 and signed by the governor that allowed sheriffs to jail kids without having to follow standards of care mandated by the state Department of Juvenile Justice.
While some sheriffs have successfully managed their detention efforts, the jail in Polk County has come under fire for allegedly using adult techniques such as pepper spray and tasers against children housed in the facility.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which joined Senator Joyner at a press conference announcing her legislation, has filed a federal lawsuit against Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. Also at the press conference was a teen who claimed he was unable to breathe and was denied help after being pepper sprayed at Judd’s jail. The teen, identified only as “J. P” said he alerted guards that he suffered from asthma prior to being doused with the pepper spray.
Senator Joyner’s legislation, SB 506, will repeal the law allowing juveniles to be housed in county jails. This will dramatically reduce taxpayers’ exposure to liabilities and children’s exposure to dangerous conditions.
“When I learned about all the false promises this bad law delivered, I made my own promise then and there that I would protect these children,” said Senator Joyner. “I promised that I would do everything in my power to make sure that the pepper spraying, the physical and mental brutality, the confinement in cages for suicidal risk, and the tasers used on children would stop.
“The horrors children reported in Polk County must never be allowed to become the model for the rest of the state. SB 506 makes sure it never does.”Tweet