"Grade school felons sound like anomalies or misprints. They are neither," reports the St. Petersburg Times. The story reveals that "elementary school kids who once got a stern lecture from a cop or a store clerk now are regularly arrested on felony charges" and "saddled with permanent criminal records." The investigation cites data that "more than 4,500 kids 11 and under were charged with crimes in Florida during the fiscal year that ended in June," 2000. It also reveals statistics showing "that disproportionately large number of African-Americans come in contact with the juvenile justice system." The reporter points to examples of children hurting their teachers or raping their classmates, but finds at the same time that "overall the system is not geared to handle very young kids." A major question risen by the investigation is whether Florida needs to adopt a law that prevents very young children from being formally charged and tried.
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