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July 17, 2012

Wendy Ruiz has lived in Florida her entire life. She graduated from a Florida public high school and enrolled at Miami Dade College. But because she can’t prove the federal immigration status of her parents, she must pay out-of-state tuition, which can more than triple the cost of a college education in Florida.

Criminal Justice Reform

Date Filed

March 20, 2012

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of Polk County youth, which charges that Polk County detains youth charged as juveniles under adult standards. It also charges that Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd allows guards to brutalize children and fails to provide these youth with adequate educational and rehabilitative services.

February 16, 2012

In 2011, the Florida legislature passed a law that set juvenile justice back 40 years. The law, known as SB 2112, allows sheriffs to house young people in adult jails without the protections developed over the years for children in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

December 15, 2011

In Jacksonville, Fla., 12-year-old Cristian Fernandez is facing charges of homicide and aggravated child abuse in the adult criminal justice system. If convicted, Cristian will receive the mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Children's Rights
Landmark Case

Date Filed

October 18, 2011

The state of Florida denied in-state college tuition rates to U.S. citizens living in the state but unable to prove the lawful immigration status of their parents – an unconstitutional policy that more than tripled the cost of tuition. The SPLC filed a federal lawsuit that ended the practice.