Re the Oct. 27 editorial, Direct file wrong for juvenile offenders: Back in 1981, Frank Orlando, a nationally respected juvenile court judge, argued that Broward’s elected state attorney was responsible for an increase in juvenile crime.
Orlando, since retired, noted that the 1978 rewrite of Florida’s juvenile code let state attorneys haul kids directly into adult court. Until this direct filing was allowed, state attorneys had to get a grand jury to order kids into adult court.
Michael J. Satz, then and still Broward’s state attorney, took advantage of the law, charging so many kids as adults that the juvenile system was left with less work, the judge said.
Because bureaucracies abhor a vacuum, as the judge said, the juvenile system had to find another way to keep busy. So it found a new supply of kids, those who previously would never have been handled by juvenile court because their violations were so minor. They were tossed into the juvenile system where they then learned from real delinquents.
Judge Orlando noted the importance of keeping minor violators out of the juvenile system. That’s another reason state legislators now considering abandoning direct filing should do it.