Number of Student Arrests in Florida Has Decreased After New School Policy

In the 2011-2012 school year, there were 1,062 student arrests made in Broward County, the sixth-largest school district in the country. Arrests for misdemeanors accounted for 71 percent of these arrests. This could mean that a student who was launching spit balls, showing up late, or loitering could not only be suspended from school, but could be arrested on criminal charges. This is sometimes called the "school-to-prison pipeline", which officials are taking the first steps toward eliminating. According to the Associated Press, the Broward County school district, the NAACP, and South Florida police have agreed on a course of action to decrease the number of these student arrests.

The new policy includes the stipulation that a first-time non-violent misdemeanor will not lead to an arrest, but that there would be increasing penalties up to a fifth violation, and only at that point would police officers step in. Of course, felonies and even safety threats would still involve law enforcement. But if there are offenses such as trespassing, misdemeanor marijuana possession, underage drinking, harassment, etc., the first step would not be an arrest and a courtroom, but things such as counseling and other school-level actions that could help students to improve their behavior.

School principals are now given the authority to come up with an appropriate response to a disruptive student, instead of school resource officers. Officials are hopeful that other school districts will follow suit, so that zero-tolerance policies do not lead to an undeserved criminal record. This policy began this school year, and already the school district superintendent has announced a 41 percent drop in school arrests.

If you or your child has been charged with a juvenile offense, then you need to act quickly. You do not want to be stuck with a criminal record for the rest of life. Act now to preserve your future! With a dedicated Tampa criminal defense attorney on your side, the case might not ever have to go to adult court, and your charges could be reduced or even dismissed. Contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. to learn more about how we could help you!