NAACP: Statement on Florida State Juvenile Justice System
BALTIMORE, MD—The NAACP, the nation’s foremost civil rights organization, is extremely dismayed by the results of a recent investigation into Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice. In response to the Miami Herald series, “Fight Club,” detailing the violence, abuse and misconduct taking place in the country’s largest juvenile justice system, the NAACP released the following statement:
“There is simply no overstating how horrific and sickening the conditions are for the youth subjected to the system. It is truly a tragedy that children, who more than anything need a loving and fostering environment to grow and develop, are instead forced to brutally assault each other in exchange for a snack,” said Derrick Johnson, interim President and CEO, NAACP.
“The NAACP demands that Florida undertake a complete and full investigation that holds everyone from the top to the bottom accountable for their failure to ensure humane treatment of our children,” added Johnson.
The report by the Miami Herald chronicled stories of forced fighting, sexual assault and wrongful deaths. Officers allegedly enforced a culture of denial and suppression. In total, the Herald examined 12 questionable deaths of detained youths since the year 2000.
“It’s clear that the juvenile justice system’s continual mismanagement and decades of blame-shifting have created a system where the daily subjugation of young people to an inhumane level of cruelty appears more the norm than the exception,” said Adora Nweze, President of the NAACP Florida State Conference.
“Saying that the system is broken is an understatement. We need to recognize that the system is the leading catalyst for the very problem it is trying to solve – juvenile delinquency,” Nweze continued, “What good are we doing our society if we hand over troubled youth to the state and they return them to us traumatized, exploited, and angry? Florida has done its residents and the country at large a huge disservice by allowing such atrocities to go unnoticed for so long.”
The NAACP is calling for the State of Florida to accept responsibility for the deplorable state of affairs, taking immediate steps to address the issues raised by the Miami Herald investigation.
As always, the Florida State Conference of the NAACP will continue to fight to ensure that the needs of justice-involved children are met, including their basic safety, educational requirements, and emotional well-being.