On October 26, 2015, the Pensacola branch of the League of Women Voters and head of their Education Committee, Mrs. Paula Montgomery, in cooperation with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Escambia Youth Justice Coalition, and the Coffee Party, held the second panel discussion of the School-to-Prison Pipeline. Ms. Lisa Nellessen-Lara, executive editor of the Pensacola News Journal, moderated.
The first panel discussion hosted by the League of Women Voters, held on August 31, 2015, provides a broad overview of the issue in Escambia County--the country's number one county in terms of incarcerating children.
The discussion this time was more narrowly focused on the criminal justice system in Escambia County and how it deals with juvenile offenders. Escambia County leads the free world, according to the ACLU's Ms. Keyontay Humphries, in incarcerating juveniles.
As part of the panel discussion, the sponsors showed a 17-minute TedX Jacksonville Talk by attorney Hank Coxe. The main point of the video, "When will your child be eligible for parole," is that while juveniles may know the difference between right and wrong, their brains have not physically developed to control their behavior. The criminal justice system nationwide, but particularly in Escambia County, is unprepared to deal with juveniles who may commit violent crimes or other serious crimes as juveniles. Instead, they are transferred into the adult criminal justice system, put into traumatic solitary confinement, and given adult-level punishments. For a further discussion of Hank Coxe's video presentation with a transcript, see the discussion between Hank Coxe and attorney Gray Thomas at Metro Jacksonville.
Tonight's panelists were Ms. Kelly Richards, a veteran juvenile Public Defender in Escambia County; Ms. Majorie Anders, Assistant State Attorney and another juvenile veteran; Mr. Greg Marcille, Chief Assistant State Attorney; Reverend Rick Branch from the downtown United Methodist Church; Mr. Spencer Wease, a juvenile offender who was rescued from the system by Pathways for Change; and, Ms. Tania Galloni, main lawyer for the Florida branch of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
What follows are the presentations in the chronological order of the event allowing the reader to experience the event as it unfolded.
BEGIN VIDEO ESSAY
Ms. Paula Montgomery, League of Women's Voters, Introduction
Pensacola Mayor Hayward, Remarks and Proclamation
Pensacola Police Officer Carl Reeves, PPD Update for Chief Alexander
American Civil Liberties Union, Ms. Keyontay Humphries, Overview
Pensacola Public Defender, Ms. Kelly Richards
Assistant State Attorney, Ms. Marjorie Anders
Chief Assistant State Attorney, Mr. Greg Marcille
United Methodist Church, Reverend Rick Branch
Pathways for Change participant, Mr. Spencer Wease
Southern Poverty Law Center attorney, Ms. Tania Galloni
Chief State Attorney Marcille's response to SPLC attorney Ms. Galloni
Pathways for Change Mr. Wease on how Pathways changed his life
SPLC attorney Ms. Galloni on 14-year old African American youth sentenced as adult
Public Defender Richards on budget and time constraints affecting juvenile justice
State Attorney Marcille on race not being factor in disposition of cases
ACLU's Ms. Humphries answering question on lack of diversity of panel
State Attorney Anders and ACLU's Ms. Humphries on "pantsing incident"
SPLC's attorney Ms. Galloni on juveniles' blocked access to military
State Attorney Anders response to Ms. Galloni
SPLC attorney Ms. Galloni response to Ms. Anders
Question, to what degree are public officials responsible?
Nearly all panelists comment on the role of public officials
ACLU's Ms. Humphries and Councilman Underhill comment
Mr. Bill Caplinger thanks Mr. Franco and staff for superb dinner and service