A Times Editorial
Juveniles should not be shut out of college or the job market because of a childish mistake, which is why Florida’s juvenile civil citation program is so vital in giving small-time offenders a second chance and in avoiding the prison pipeline. Hillsborough County, which has not used this program as effectively as others in Florida, should look to divert more juveniles away from the criminal justice system and toward more productive lives.
Civil citations are a means for counties to deal with common youth crimes without having to subject a juvenile to the cost and hassle of an arrest or the stigma of a criminal record. Rather than send a juvenile through the court system for vandalizing property, trespassing or other petty crimes, authorities issue a civil citation, which requires offenders to take responsibility for their actions, perform community service and undertake counseling. Juveniles are spared an arrest record, and citations are cheaper for local communities than arresting and housing a juvenile in jail. While the counties differ in how they administer the program, and in what crimes are covered, civil citations generally are offered for non-violent misdemeanors.