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Try accused kids as adults?

That’s what some are calling for in response to news that three black Florida teens have been charged with beating up an autistic white classmate at a bus stop.

While two of the accused assailants in Brevard County allegedly slapped, kicked and called the 13-year-old autistic boy a “cracker,” another filmed the attack and cheered, according to police, the autistic boy’s mother and others quoted in a report by Orlando’s Photos and names of the accused attackers are posted on some media websites and were broadcast, while other outlets chose not to disclose them.

The Florida Today website says the three have been charged with aggravated stalking with a hate crime enhancement. One of the accused is identified as 15 and two are 16. The teens were reportedly attending an alternative school where students facing expulsion or other problems are sent.

Comments on the Florida Today website show some readers took pleasure in the fact that African American teens were charged with a hate crime. And some of the comments demonstrate how public sentiment has helped push nearly every state in the nation into making it easier to try minors as adults.

In Florida, the state attorney will decide whether that’s what these three teens will face after they initially go to juvenile court.

While trying minors as adults might satisfy understandable desire for punishment, in-depth studies of the practice show it doesn’t help rehabilitate teenagers who will headed back into society. And it’s been clear for some time it makes them vulnerable to reoffending as adults.

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Susan Ferriss joined CPI in 2011 and directs its immigration project. As a Cox Newspapers Latin America...