Orange-Osceola public defender pushes for fewer juvenile arrests

Robert Wesley asks for local police to stop arresting youth for minor offenses

Orange-Osceola's public defender is reaching out to local law enforcement on Wednesday asking for police to stop arresting young kids for minor offenses.

Robert Wesley is hoping the judicial system can come up with a better way to address these issues that doesn't involve jail time.

The judicial circuit that covers Orange and Osceola counties arrests more kids between the ages of 5 and 10 than any other circuit in the state, Wesley said.

Wesley said police in other counties rely on other options like community service to deal with young kids accused in minor offenses and is hoping Central Florida counties can do something similar.

"The family structure is strong enough. The shame of the arrest, the encounter is strong enough the school system works well to prevent it and again, these are needless arrests that aren't protecting the community from any outrageous behavior. Instead, they're traumatizing children," said Wesley. 

He said he hopes the alternative methods can keep kids in school instead of in prison.