Cristian Fernandez is only 12 years old. And if Florida prosecutor Angela Corey has her way, he’ll never leave jail again.
Cristian hasn’t had an easy life. He’s the same age now as his mother was when he was born. He’s a survivor of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. In 2010, Cristian watched his stepfather commit suicide to avoid being charged with abusing Cristian.
Last January, Cristian was wrestling with his 2-year-old brother, David, and accidentally broke David’s leg. Despite this, their mother left Cristian with his brother again in March. While the two boys were alone, Cristian allegedly pushed his brother against a bookcase, and David sustained a head injury. After their mother returned home, she waited six hours before taking David to the hospital. David eventually died.
Now Cristian is being charged with first degree murder — as an adult. He’s the youngest person in the history of his Florida county to receive this charge, and his next hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.
Melissa Higgins works with kids who get caught up in the criminal justice system in her home state of New Hampshire. When she read about Cristian’s case, she was appalled — so she started a petition on Change.org asking Florida State’s Attorney Angela Corey to try Cristian as a child. Please sign Melissa’s petition immediately before Cristian’s hearing tomorrow.
As part of his prosecution, Cristian has been examined by two different forensic psychiatrists — each of whom concluded that he was "emotionally underdeveloped but essentially reformable despite a tough life."
Cristian has already been through more than most of us can imagine — and now the rest of his life is in the hands of a Florida prosecutor who wants to make sure Cristian never leaves jail.
The purpose of the juvenile justice system is to reform kids who haven’t gotten a fair shake. If Cristian is sent to adult prison, it will be more than a tragedy for him — it will also be a signal to other prosecutors that kids’ lives are acceptable collateral in the quest to be seen as "tough on crime."
Cristian’s next hearing is in just 24 hours. State’s Attorney Angela Corey needs to know that her actions are being watched — please sign the petition asking her not to try Cristian as an adult:
Thanks for being a change-maker,
- Michael and the Change.org team