WFSU by Audriana Thomas & Kayla Gallagher
January 23, 2020
Among the many public exemption bills that could come up in the Florida Legislature, some could have major implications on the First Amendment rights of Florida residents.
For Rep. Anthony Sabatini, (R- Clermont) house bill 615 is personal. “I actually went to teen court myself when I was sixteen for a fist fight and now I sit on the criminal justice committee. So I’m a very firm believer in rehabilitation,” Sabatini said.
He’s a co-sponsor on Rep. Clovis Watson’s bills, and presented one measure on the Democrat’s behalf. The proposals are aimed at keeping kids out of the criminal justice system. According to a state staff analysis more than 5,000 kids would benefit should the bill pass.
One measure would allow juvenile records to be exempt from public record with certain exception. While another would extend the option to first-time offenders charged with a felony or misdemeanor, who receive a recommendation from a state attorney.
Sabatini believes that indiscretions on kids’ public records are like a “scarlet letter” and can leave a lasting impact. “We know that sometimes juveniles do things that we know that they can learn from and so keeping them out of the court system, I think is of great interest to the state,” he said.