City council, county commission want to keep minors out of adult court

City council, county commission want to keep minors out of adult court

The Pensacola City Council and Escambia County Commission say too many children are being tried as adults in our courts. They want to send a resolution to Tallahassee asking state legislatures to allow judges more leeway for young people in trouble with the law.

The resolution doesn't have any legal ramifications, but not everyone in Escambia County is happy about the idea.

According to the potential resolution put forward by the Escambia County Board of Commissioners, Florida puts more children in adult prison than any other state in the country.

Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson said its far too many.

"Anytime we end up putting juveniles into an adult situation without taking into account some of their juvenile nature and giving them an opportunity to improve their situations. All we have done is create career criminals," said Robinson.

The resolution recommends district attorney to get a judge's signoff to prosecute a minor as an adult.

State Attorney Bill Eddins said the proposal is outside of the powers of these local governments.

"They are not qualified, they do not have the experience or the expertise to evaluate these matters and shouldn't be considering them. In addition to that, it is outside of their arena of responsibility. My office is the office that prosecutes these juveniles," Eddins said.

He said the minors tried as adults are separated from adults in prison and said the ability to prosecute young people as adults has paid dividends in safety and security.

"We had an increased occurrence of violent crime. we had guys that were roaming the streets that were juveniles and I felt that the best approach was to transfer them to adult court if they were committing violent crimes or they had been through the juvenile system before and it had done no good, which happens to be an awful lot," Eddins said.

The resolution doesn't have the force of law, but Commissioner Robinson hopes what he calls the force of people is enough.

"We are simply saying that this is something worth evaluating. All we are making is a recommendation, we are not making a change, we're not in a position to do that, but we are in the position to let the opinions be known of what our opinions are. Clearly, almost all of the responses are very positive to it," Robinson said.

Pensacola City Council President Gerald Wingate also introduced a resolution to the city council agenda this week, which would petition the state government to not charge people under the age of 18 as adults. WEAR placed several calls to Wingate, but have not heard back.

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