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Readers react to our new online comment policy; the DART Center advocates to reduce youth arrest rates

Letters to the Editor



On June 26, we announced that we would no longer support commenting on our website, and removed the commenting module that used to be found at the end of each online article. We made the decision after noticing that the comment sections were, far from an orderly exchange of viewpoints, a stew of racism, misogyny and good ol' spam. The Washington Post interviewed editor Jessica Bryce Young about the decision, prompting the below letter to the editor (and more).

THANK YOU, Orlando Weekly, for giving up on the electronic comments. I just read about this in the Washington Post. They should follow your lead. I have been so discouraged and depressed over the years reading the vile and stupid inner thoughts of so many unkind and unthoughtful people. Mind you, there have been some worthy insights, but a letter to the editor is in my mind the minimum effort a decent person will offer to formulate a clear and hopefully non-inflammatory insight.

This era of instant communication has certainly made me fully understand why God did not bestow mankind with the "gift" of telekinesis. Knowing now what I have read over the years really makes me wonder if we will ever grow up to a minimum decency standard and learn how to treat each other. This is exactly how wars get started, and we seem to be at war with each other more than ever.

Again, good first step, now let's see if you guys can handle the letters to the editor with some kind of wisdom and insight.

Clark Morris
Mount Plymouth

For many years Florida has had the notorious distinction of leading the country in youth arrest rates. Footage of an Orlando School Resource Officer arresting a 5-year-old child as she cried to be given a second chance only illustrated a long-standing problem. Black youth comprise 50 percent of all arrests even though they are 17 percent of the population is Black.

The Florida State Legislature has taken steps to fix this problem by creating the Juvenile Civil Citation Program (a non-arrest program for children who commit a first-time misdemeanor). Yet, many law enforcement leaders are failing to hold law enforcement officers accountable to use this program to reduce excessive arrests of children for minor, non-violent offenses.

While there has been some improvement over the last five years, only 60-64 percent of eligible children have received access to a civil citation in Florida. Furthermore, during the last year, over 5,000 eligible children were not offered a civil citation. 

On July 9, over 460 faith leaders across Florida called on all local law enforcement leaders to ensure that at least 80 percent of eligible children get access to civil citations. State Attorney R.J. Larizza announced changes he will make to the civil citation process in the circuit that includes Volusia County to ensure that at least 80 percent of eligible children get access. This event was organized by 11 independent organizations that make up the DART Florida Criminal Justice Collaborative.

Haley Grossman
DART Center

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

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