Stop Direct File

The state of Florida is one of only fourteen remaining states where the state attorney retains sole discretion to transfer juvenile non-violent criminal cases to adult criminal court, a process defined in Florida Statute as “direct file.”

At the time of sentencing the judge has the right to impose either criminal or juvenile sanctions whereas in the majority of states, the judge has this right of determination at the time the charges are initially filed in court by the state attorney.  Research studies indicate that the recidivism and violence increases for youth who have been detained within the adult prison as compared to those receiving rehabilitation services available in the juvenile detention system.  Grounded in a critical theory conflict resolution approach, this plan outlines an approach to legislative advocacy to return the direct file decision solely to Florida judges for non-violent crimes, similar to the change in Colorado law in 2012.  Following a presentation of the history and background of the issue and my personal involvement and role with my son who was direct filed, a strategy for legislative advocacy is developed that includes the positions of the parties and the need for a distributed power coalition (Gelak, 2008) to bring public education, opinion and pressure that may help influence the legislative process towards positive reform.

More to come…