There has been a rumor that the White Springs Police Department is handling an abundance of catch and release juveniles. There have been many robberies or shoplifting cases mainly by juveniles in the White Springs Area and from what I have heard either the Dollar General has not pressed charges, or perhaps the parents have paid restitution for what has been stolen. Our police department has been extremely fair to the citizens of White Springs and have even assisted juveniles who were experiencing drug induced trauma rather than arresting them.
What is missing in the State Florida Law Enforcement is a program for youths who are in trouble with the law but who only are required to be temporarily detained. Florida has 21 such facilities divided into three regions throughout Florida which hold juveniles who are awaiting court dates or placement in a residential facility. The State provides Residential facilities for youth who are required by a judge to stay in the care of the Department of Juvenile Justice for an extended time but no facility for a temporary detainment.
You may believe that I am mentioning the incarceration of juveniles, but that is not the point I am getting to. Apparently in the State of Florida since there is no middle ground facility which keeps youth detained on a temporary basis, the only choices besides the hard core detention and residential facilities provided by the State of Florida, is a “Catch and Release” by police officers. If there was such a middle ground facility, the police officers would not have to spend their time catching and releasing to parents that should take an interest in teaching their children values and the commandment of ‘Thou shall not steal”.
Even with the best of parents, sometimes it is difficult to instill certain values into their children; especially with all of the outside influences of friends and adults which also may be involved in criminal activities; some for just the fun of it and the increased Adrenalin of getting away with something.
Let me share an interesting story relating to juveniles during the time in which I lived in Reno. At one time three young men under ten years of age vandalized the windshield of my vehicle because I escorted them out of our office building after hours. Although the vandalism by the three could not be proven, these three young men decided to use fire crackers to blow up a bank teller’s window at our Insurance Agency. The problem for these juveniles was that there was a witness who happened to check on my vehicle the following day and the teller’s window was bulletproof..
The Reno Police Department was notified when the three young men between the ages of 10-12 years of age again appeared in the parking lot. Once taken by the police, their parents were called to our office as well; so the officers could take statements. The parents all claimed how wonderful their boys were and that surely I had fabricated the story about their sons. Then the witness walked in and all three started to cry and they divulged the truth of their actions.
The Reno PD cited the three young men and advised the parents that each would be placed in juvenile detention at Wittenberg Hall for a period of no less than four weeks. The parents were further apprised that they would have to pay a fee of $30.00 a week for each boy’s stay in the facility. The parents seemed more upset about the money which they would have to pay than being upset that their children had partaken in a crime. Wittenberg Hall is a secure holding facility for the temporary detention of juvenile offenders.
Basically what the Reno PD did was hit the pocketbooks of the parents who were required to share the cost of their childrens’ detention (who looked like they could not afford the money especially since they pled with the officers). However, a facility such as Wittenberg Hall assures that each parent in the future will take an interest in what their children are doing or the consequences will be suffered again..
Wittenberg Hall is a facility that is constructed and conducted as nearly like home. Its mission is twofold: (1) protecting the community by securely housing juveniles that may be or have been involved in activities injurious to the public and (2) providing for the safe, secure and healthy detention of juveniles detained within the facility.
Wittenberg Hall provides juveniles basic needs including shelter, food, clothing and medical care and protects the rights of juveniles during residents. It also provides for the educational, physical, emotional and social needs of detained juveniles. Rules, discipline and controls are administered in a fair and consistent manner and detained juveniles are nurtured and encouraged in acceptable behaviors.
This is an enterprise that should be petitioned through the State. In fact it could be a facility built right here in White Springs for the surrounding areas. The nearest detention center is in Gainesville, so it would not be so ridiculous to have a temporary facility for juvenile offenders in White Springs. It would provide additional jobs including law enforcement officers and teachers.
Again without facilities such as Wittenberg Hall, the burden is placed on our police officers who try to work with the parents who should instill values in their young. After all if a child feels they can continually get away with crimes, someday the Crime will buy them hard time. That not only hurts their future in securing a lucrative job and possibly an excellent education but may cause the child adult to spend the rest of their life behind bars or on welfare and drugs.
Karin for the blog