JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A new report from the group Justice for Youth is calling on states to raise the minimum age at which children can be prosecuted as adults.
Recently in Duval County, 14-year-old Johnathan Godwin was arrested for the murder of a 3-year-old girl, police say he was babysitting.
Godwin’s former teacher, Kevin Dunbar, said he never saw signs of violence.
“I thought it was a mistake, I thought they had the wrong kid,” Dunbar said.
Godwin is currently in a juvenile facility. He has been arrested but not formally charged. The State Attorney’s office will need to decide if Godwin will be charged as an adult.
The teen meets the minimum age requirement to be charged as an adult in Florida.
A new report by Justice for Youth argues children should be treated differently in the criminal justice system.
Florida state sen. Bobby Powell of District 30 said he is working to introduce legislation to increase the age at which children can be prosecuted as an adult in Florida to 16, and changing the way children are housed pretrial.
“If they are awaiting to be tried, and they are still children they should be kept in a juvenile facility,” Powell said.
Action News Jax Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson believes the age for prosecuting children as adults should be raised but the practice shouldn’t be eliminated entirely.
“The exceptions would be someone who grew up in an environment so horrible that they won’t be corrected and those individuals exist in our community,” Carson said.
Right now, 14 is the minimum age at which a child can be charged as an adult. However, there is no minimum on how old a child can be indicted by a grand jury if the charge is punishable by death or life in prison.