An alarming number of young girls are being arrested in the state of Florida, according to a newly released study by a Jacksonville nonprofit.
On Wednesday, Action News Jax reported the findings from the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center's latest study. It shows many young girls are being arrested for crimes that don't necessarily require jail time. The organization suggests therapy and other programs instead.
Action News Jax reporter, Meghan Moriarty, sat down with 14-year-old Ariyhanna Johnson on Thursday. She went through one of the nonprofit's programs, alongside her mother.
"Its brought us closer together, this program," Ariyhanna Johnson said.
Two years ago, Ariyhanna's mother, Cynthia Orduna, lost custody of her. Ariyhanna struggled in school and ended up failing her classes. Then at 12 years old, she was arrested.
"I got in trouble about two years ago for assault and battery," Ariyhanna said.
"I was thankful for the judge," Orduna said. "He wasn't gonna sentence her to any time in a detention center."
Instead, her public defender suggested the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center. The nonprofit has a variety of programs to reengage girls who have been arrested, suspended from school, or are struggling with trauma. There are five model programs; two are specially designed for girls in elementary and middle school.
Ariyhanna completed her court-ordered therapy but has decided to stick with the program further.
"I've become a lot happier with myself, and a lot more self-confident," Ariyhanna said.
Right now, the 14-year-old is doing great in school. She serves as an example to her younger siblings, and she said she hopes to one day become a psychologist or a dentist.
"She's actually caught up. [She's] starting in her correct grade this year, after failing and getting into trouble," Orduna said. "I'm just so proud of her."
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