Editorial: Failure to Act

The Gainesville Sun
October 2, 2013

Cases like those heard last month before the Florida Supreme Court show the need for some type of review of long juvenile sentences. One involves Shimeek Gridine, who was convicted in 2009 of shooting a 12-year-old boy in Duval County. Gridine, who was 14 at the time of the crime, was sentenced to 70 years in prison for attempted murder and robbery.

Under current state law, he would have to serve at least 25 years plus 85 percent of the remaining years. That means Gridine will likely die in prison for a crime, however terrible, that he committed when he was barely a teenager.

The Supreme Court’s decision was based in part on the idea that juveniles, by their very nature, fail to appreciate risk and consequences. Someone who committed a heinous crime as a juvenile could be a different person more than two decades later.

Whether they call it parole or something else, lawmakers should establish a review system for long juvenile sentences. Otherwise, the courts will just have to do their jobs for them.

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