New Report Demonstrates That Florida Counties Are Still Arresting Juveniles Too Frequently
A new report released by a coalition of nonprofits that work on civil rights protection reveals that there are still a number of concerning criminal justice issues when it comes to Florida’s treatment of juveniles. Specifically, three-quarters of Florida counties earned an “F” in relying on alternatives to arresting juveniles for minor crimes (i.e. issues civil citations to juveniles accused of misdemeanors).
Civil citations offer youth a better shot at their future, making it easier to move on in education and employment than being arrested. For example, an average of only four percent of juveniles who receive civil citations are shown to reoffend.
Not only did these counties such as Duval, Clay, and Nassau perform badly when it came to relying on civil citations instead of juvenile arrests (for example, choosing civil citations over arrests in eligible cases as infrequently as 20 percent of the time), but Duval County in particular was found to demonstrate significant racial disparity in its use of civil citations; noticeably arresting more black than white youth. Specifically, 80 percent of eligible black kids were arrested—compared to only 64 percent of eligible white kids—when it came to these minor crimes that were instead eligible for civil citations.
The Promise of Cost Efficiency
The report not only has implications for civil rights and juvenile justice, but for taxpayers as well: If the more than 2,000 juvenile arrests had involved civil citations instead, it would have saved an estimated $3 to $10 million.
Counties That Scored Well
It is also important to note that there were counties that earned an A or B grade; for example, Pinellas and Miami-Dade, which utilized the civil citation policy 94 percent of the time. In addition, 26 counties increased utilization of the civil citation option by 10 percent or more, with nine increasing their use of it by 25 percent or more.
In addition, notably, since the study was completed, a number of leaders in Duval, Clay, and Nassau counties have pledged to revamp the civil citation process, allowing for more offenders to receive the citation as opposed to criminal sanctions.
The study also showed that, although there is much still left to do, the state is, overall, moving in the right direction: there were 3,000 fewer juvenile arrests compared to the previous year.
Still, this leaves 9,000 eligible youth who were arrested when they, instead, could have been issued civil citations.
The Very Best In Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you are a Florida juvenile and have been arrested for a minor crime instead of being issued a civil citation when you were eligible to, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Once you are in the system, it is difficult to get out and get yourself on the road to recovery and moving on.
The experienced criminal defense and civil rights attorneys at the Baez Law Firm can help. We protect and serve juvenile clients throughout Florida and Massachusetts. Contact us for a free consultation.