Monday, March 15, 2010

Bill on juvenile inmates makes strides in Tallahassee

March 13, 2010


Backers of a state bill that would provide a chance at freedom for children sentenced to long prison sentences are growing confident as the proposed legislation made it through a crucial Senate committee this week, further clearing the way for a possible vote by lawmakers.

The Second Chance for Children in Prison Act, the brainchild of Florida State University law professor Paolo Annino, would bring back the possibility of parole for children who were sentenced to more than 10 years in prison before they turned 15. The children must have served at least eight years, must be determined to have been rehabilitated, and must not have any disciplinary reports for the previous two years, among other requirements.

Annino sent a congratulatory e-mail to staffers and supporters after learning of this week's 6-1 vote.

The bill, which passed unanimously through the Florida House Public Safety and Domestic Security Committee earlier this month, now has to go through the House and Senate's Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee.

"This bill allows redemption for those who made mistakes as children and gives them a second chance in life," said supporter Sheila Hopkins, associate director for social concerns for the Florida Catholic Conference in Tallahassee.

The sponsors of the separate but identical bills -- Rep. Michael Weinstein and Sen. Arthenia Joyner -- both serve on the Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee.

"In terms of saving the state money and still ensuring public safety, allowing the parole commission the ability to review cases of inmates sentenced as juveniles age 15 and younger who meet certain qualifications and have demonstrated they can be rehabilitated fits into the new paradigm of re-entry," Hopkins said.

The bill could directly affect a brother and sister from Port St. John who were sentenced to 18 years in prison followed by a lifetime of probation after gunning down their father's girlfriend in 1999.

Catherine Jones, now 24, was 13 when she and her then-12-year-old brother Curtis Jones originally were charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 29-year-old Nicole Speights. They pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Catherine Jones is due out in six years, and Curtis Jones is scheduled for release from prison in about seven years because of another infraction.

Last year, Catherine Jones told FLORIDA TODAY that the murder was part of a plot to kill Speights, their father and another relative because the children were being sexually abused by the other relative.

Some documents support her claim, including reports from the Department of Children and Families that found indications of sexual abuse in the home. The other relative is a registered sex offender who reportedly lives in Brevard County.

"Curtis told me he is praying for passage of the bill," Annino said earlier this month.

Contact Torres at 242-3649 or


Anonymous said...

I my self was incarcerted with catherine. I think if they pass this bill they should have them under some really good supervision and counsiling because no matter how much "rehabilitation" anyone thinks they have. After being in prison for so long and to be put in there so young its all they know. They are institutionalized not rehabilitated. I dont think they take what they did seriously and think they should have to take extensive counseling sessions and classes to help them cope. I dont know what she is saying when she says they planned to kill her father and someone else because she always spoke very highly of her father. She was singing a diffrent tune when we were incarcerated together.

Anonymous said...

Well I also was incarcerated with her and yes she spoke highly of her father. She loved her father dearly. Thats not saying she didnt plan to kill her father. We dont know what they went through to get to where they are in their relationship today. Only God knows, but I will say that she is rehabilitated. She knows what she did was wrong. If you really knew her then you would know how she wakes up from nightmares about the incident. She never would really say "Why" she did it. Maybe she was embaressed. Who are we to judge, but she did mention abuse to me once. Though she never went into detail. I would agree to the counseling though, but all in all she was a great girl with a big heart. She was very smart and always tried her best to avoid trouble. Even though she made a huge mistake I feel like she would do right if given a second chance!!!

Jessica said...

I am the daughter of the person she killed. I used to live with Catherine before she killed my mother. I absolutely loved her. Just the thought of her being my big sister made me happy because I always wanted an older sister. Living amongst her and her brother I could tell they were troubled children but they never told me what was going on. She never mentioned anything about a relative molesting her. We moved there in 1998. So whoever this relative is that was molesting her must have moved out before we moved there. I just hate the fact that they took my mother's life. The one who was extremely nice to them. She would do anything for them. I was 9 when they killed my mother and I am now 24. I agree that they need some type of counseling. I pray for them often. Munchie (Catherine) & PeeWee (Curtis). I have been also praying for a forgiving spirit. When they killed my mother, it not only affected her, it affected her whole family too. It's been 14 years and the tears keep falling.

Anonymous said...

i feel for you and i know its hard years after dealing with a loved lost one my heart goes out to you i would never trust another soul afterwards..

Anonymous said...

maybe not i understand you was locked up with her so your loyalty lies in cat but after being locked up for so long honestly the only best thing is for a second chance in a group home wea they can be supervised also under go counseling to help deal with the issue at hand im not saying there bad kids thats gonna grow up to be troubled adults what im saying is their two sides to every story so far i only heard of the girlfriend dying the SWEET HONEST GIRLFRIEND dead in a pool of blood because someone else was abusing them smh dont make a bit of sense to me but who am i to judge regardless of what they been locked up too long and this world moves fast so if they dont have loving and caring people to help guide them they will be lost in today's society

Anonymous said...

I read the report from Child protective services and being a social worker and abused as a child can believe that these kids were abused. All of the signs were there. The fact is that the system failed them the same way they failed me. The sad reality is that this happens every day and you have young children that go to this very extreme because they are failed by the system that was suppose to protect them. This is the reason why I chose to go into my field. A lot of times kids will not confide in other kids because of the shame. I was very ashame because it was a family member and the other adults did not believe me. I chose to run away and suffered the harshness of the street life. I pray that the demons and nightmares they have will one day go away. You will never know the pain and fear that you suffer as being abused as a child unless you have lived it yourself. We should pray for them. I do feel that the were punished to harshly and should be allowed to come home. Put yourself in there shoes.

Anonymous said...

If abuse happened then yes the tale a tell signs would be present but when facts come about you cant do nothing but weight out the options of hmmmm mabye she was just looking for some attention from her father. im putting myself in their shoes and any kind of way my uncle ever touched me and dad didn't listen i kno for a fact my teacher would but if she felt that highly of her dad why not tell him clearly she felt safe with him and if someone was making her un comfortable inform your father even if there was a reasonable doubt of it happening atleast her father would have a record of mentioning it i cant trust their story nor can i trust the fact that she planned to kill three people i trully believe she planned kill her dads girlfriend to remain his lil princess

Anonymous said...

Smh she didnt deserve all dat time period.. even if she wasnt abused she was still a child who they have on record sayn they didn't understand y they did it

Anonymous said...

Sweet honest girlfriend who was aware of the abuse. Have you ever been abused? The abuse was documented; her father and step mother were well aware. No, they didn't deserve to die; but all the adults in that home should've been incarcerated for allowing that SEXUAL ABUSE amongst them. Where were the step mothers daughters when the killings took place? In another safe environment! Please with the bullshit. There's no coming back from death, but there's also no coming back from RAPE

Anonymous said...

U sound crazy...lmmfao. IF she was doing all this to "remain his princess" then why the HELL would she want to kill her dad too? Are u one of the ones that got locked up and met her? Because it seems to me that maybe u met her and possibly didn't "fit in" or got "accepted" by First u said she was a good person now ur singing a different tune...