Florida Senate Reverses Course, Moves to Ban Arrests of Children Under 7

March 12, 2020by Gray Rohrer, Orlando Sentinel (TNS)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — One week after a Florida Senate panel failed to take up a measure to prohibit the arrests of children under 10 in most cases, the full Senate voted Wednesday to approve a compromise version of a bill inspired by the arrest of a 6-year-old at an Orlando school last year.

An amendment prohibiting the arrest of children under 7 for nonviolent felonies was added to HB 7065, a bill that makes changes to the school safety measures passed in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018.

Sen. Randolph Bracy pushed the provision in honor of Kaia Rolle, who was arrested at the Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy charter school in September after she threw a tantrum, kicking students and teachers.

“The police were called, she was handcuffed, and she was booked. She received a mugshot, she was fingerprinted,” Bracy said.

The measure includes an exemption so children who commit forcible felonies could still be arrested.

Rolle’s family enrolled her in a different school and has said she is still feeling the effects, and is afraid she or her friends will be arrested by police at other schools.

The move was a surprise, as the Senate had opted not to take up Bracy’s attempt to assert the measure into a different bill dealing with criminal justice.

Bracy tried again Tuesday but withdrew his amendment before receiving a vote, explaining he believed Senate leaders would have ruled it out of order because his original bill — which would’ve applied to children under 12 — was never heard in committee. That appeared to end the provision’s chances, as Bracy said he’d try again next year.

But all that changed Wednesday, with no explanation for the change.

“This doesn’t happen very often, so it’s much appreciated,” Bracy told Senate leaders. “Thank you.”

The rest of the bill would require investigators to probe false tips to the state’s FortifyFL system for reporting threats to schools and students; expands the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Safety commission from 16 members to 19 members; requires law enforcement officers to have access to civil citation and prearrest diversion data and allows the Department of Education to halt salary payments to school district superintendents if the district isn’t in compliance with school safety laws.

All districts and charter school governing boards would also have to work with law enforcement to adopt policies to reunite students with their parents when a school is evacuated or closed because of a school shooting or other man-made or natural disaster.

But the move also means there are officially two “Kaia Rolle Act” provisions in the bill. Bracy gave his amendment that title, but so did House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee of Miami to his amendment added last week that requires police departments to disclose their policies for arresting children under 10.

Bracy, though, wanted to go further and actually prohibit arrests for non-forcible felonies.

The reserve officer who arrested Rolle, Dennis Turner, was fired after an investigation showed he didn’t follow Orlando Police Department guidelines for arresting children. Turner also had a discipline history of allegations of excessive force and racial profiling.

Bracy filed his original bill in October following the arrest, but neither that bill nor a House version received a hearing. After a body camera video of the arrest was released, however, showing Rolle’s arms bound with twist ties as she screamed for help, it drew national attention and widespread outrage.

The bill now heads back to the House for a final vote.


©2020 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

Visit The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) at www.OrlandoSentinel.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

State News

Cherry Blossom Peak Bloom Date Announced
District of Columbia
Cherry Blossom Peak Bloom Date Announced
March 2, 2021
by TWN Staff

WASHINGTON - It’s hard to believe it’s almost that time of year again, but on Monday came word that the peak bloom for the cherry blossoms ringing the Tidal Basin in Washington is currently expected to occur April 2-5.  That means the most vivid of blooms... Read More

Once the Mainstream Model, Michigan GOP Embraces Right Wing
In The States
Once the Mainstream Model, Michigan GOP Embraces Right Wing

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Josh Venable, a longtime Michigan GOP operative and chief of staff to former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, can trace the arc of the state's Republican Party clearly."This was the state where to be Republican was defined by Gerald Ford and George... Read More

What NY Prosecutors Could Learn from Trump's Tax Records
In The States
What NY Prosecutors Could Learn from Trump's Tax Records

NEW YORK (AP) — Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. fought for a year and a half to get access to former President Donald Trump's tax records.Now, thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, he will soon have them. But what will that mean for... Read More

Indian Country Gripped by Haaland Hearing for Top US Post
Political News
Indian Country Gripped by Haaland Hearing for Top US Post

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — For Native Americans, Deb Haaland is more than an elected official on track to become the first Indigenous secretary of the Interior Department. She is a sister, an auntie and a fierce pueblo woman whose political stances have been molded by her... Read More

Northam to Sign Death Penalty Repeal Bill
In The States
Northam to Sign Death Penalty Repeal Bill
February 22, 2021
by TWN Staff

RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia lawmakers gave final approval Monday to a bill that will end capital punishment in the Commonwealth. The legislation now heads to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who has said he will sign it into law, making Virginia the 23rd state to stop executions.... Read More

Robinhood in the Hot Seat
Robinhood in the Hot Seat
February 19, 2021
by Victoria Turner

The decision by the online brokerage firm Robinhood to impose restrictions on customer trading at the high point of last month’s online trading frenzy was brought under scrutiny at Thursday’s hearing of the House Financial Services Committee. While Robinhood insists that its decision did not favor... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top