Part 1 of 3
By Deirdra Funcheon, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange
BRADENTON, Fla. — Inside a carpeted room at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, an audience of about 75 settled into rows of banquet chairs. In the center of the room was a table, topped with microphones and a box of tissues that would be plucked from liberally over the next few hours.
Here, family members, crime victims, lawyers and police would step up and speak either for or against a particular offender being returned to society. At the front of the room sat the three Florida officials who would debate a score and make such decisions right there on the spot, not unlike an episode of “American Idol,” though far more somber.