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To: Florida Gubernatorial debate moderators Jake Tapper and Kent Justice

FL GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES: How will you end youth criminalization?

Dear debate moderators,

Systemic police brutality and the for-profit prison industry are some of the most pressing issues impacting Florida's communities, which must be address head on by our next Governor. During the last gubernatorial debate on Oct. 21st we urge you to ask Gov. Scott and Gov. Crist the below questions:

1) As Governor, what action would you take to strengthen police accountability in Florida and would you be open to working with the Department of Justice to implement systemic reforms to Florida's widespread police brutality crisis?

2) Across the country, states are breaking ties with private prison companies due to devastating human rights abuses and increased costs. As Governor, what steps would you take to end Florida's for-profit youth prisons?

Why is this important?

Florida is home to some of the worst policing practices in the country. Described as "New York City stop-and-frisk on steroids," Miami Gardens Police have stopped and questioned more than half of the city's population, thousands of them kids, some of them as young as 5 deemed "reasonably suspicious" while playing outside. (1) Often, unjust police stops turn violent and deadly.

Florida also leads the country in youth criminalization. Second only to Texas in the highest number of private prisons, Florida's entire youth prison system is privatized. Every day, Black and brown teens targeted by a deeply racist and discriminatory criminal justice system are forced to face abuse, torture, and neglect at the hands of private companies. (2)

We don't want to live in a world where you have to put a bullet proof vest on your child in fear of fatal police or vigilante violence. We must take action to address this devastating criminalization targeting Black and brown Florida youth. Florida's important Governor election is fast approaching and our state's next leadership must be committed to addressing these key issues facing our communities.

On October 21st, Gov. Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist will hold a debate, and moderators Jake Taper and Kent Justice are will have an opportunity to clarify the candidates position on Florida's for-profit prisons and systemic police violence. During last week's debate, we succeeded at garnering enough widespread public pressure to ensure that candidates were asked about Florida's notorious "Stand Your Ground Law," but we need candidates to answer to much more.

The stakes are high. To ensure youth criminalization is on our next Governor's agenda and to secure transformative change after Election Day, we must call on Jake Tapper and Kent Justice to ask the questions that matter to our community.


1. "Florida City’s ‘Stop & Frisk’ Nabs Thousands of Kids, Finds 5-Year-Olds ‘Suspicious,’" Fusion 09-22-14 Fusion

2. "Too Good to be True: Private Prisons in America," (.pdf) Sentencing Project, 01-2012
Florida, United States

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