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“Stepping Up: Florida’s Top Civil Citation Efforts” also ranks the state’s top-performing counties, school districts and law enforcement agencies.
TALLAHASSEE, FL — A study released by one of Florida’s top civil citation experts and supported by state and national juvenile justice reform organizations shows that increasing the use of civil citations statewide would have enormous benefits for public safety, taxpayers, and the futures of youth.
For example, increasing the issuance of juvenile civil citations by just 25 percent statewide would allow law & order entities to increase investment in preventing and addressing serious crime, such as felonies, by $19.7 million to $61.6 million. It could also generate lower recidivism rates — the recidivism rate for civil citations is 4%, while the rate for post-arrests is 13%.
Civil citations are an alternative to arrest for common youth misbehavior. The study — Stepping Up: Florida’s Top Civil Citation Efforts – is the first comprehensive review of statewide civil citation utilization and effectiveness.
“Which taxpayer wouldn’t want common youth misbehavior to be handled more efficiently and effectively so that public safety resources shift to preventing serious crimes?” said Dewey Caruthers, president of dewey & associates, which conducted the study.
Stepping Up, slated to become an annual study, is supported by The Children’s Campaign. The 2015 study sponsors include Florida State University Project on Accountable Justice, James Madison Institute, The Southern Poverty Law Center, and Joseph W. & Terrell S. Clark.
Stepping Up ranked the top-performing county efforts based on civil citation utilization, which is the percentage of eligible youth who received a civil citation. Data is from fiscal year 2013-2014. Additionally, each county effort was separated into divisions based on eligible youth as described below, with the top 20 percent being ranked:
- County Division One: Top 20% (100 or more eligible youth)
1st: Dade 2nd: Monroe 3rd: Pinellas 4th: Broward 5th: Marion 6th: Seminole 7th: Leon 8th: Hernando
- County Division Two: Top 20% (31-99 eligible youth)
1st: Wakulla 2nd: Baker
- County Division Three: Top 20% (30 or less eligible youth)
1st: Union 2nd: Lafayette 3rd: Glades
Furthermore, Stepping Up also ranked school districts and law enforcement agencies by the top 20 percent of each division. “There are many effective civil citation programs that deserve recognition for increasing public safety, improving youth opportunities and saving taxpayer money in their communities,” Caruthers said.
“While issuing civil citations allows a better use of millions of public safety dollars, benefits for Florida youth are actually priceless,” said Roy Miller, president of The Children’s Campaign, Florida’s leading child advocacy organization for juvenile justice reform. “Since youth aren’t arrested, future employment and education opportunities remain open to them. In addition, there’s no need to expunge juvenile records, which is difficult and expensive, as well as nearly impossible for some youth.”
A companion piece to the study, “Stepping Up County Civil Citation Reports,” provides insight into each county’s performance by law enforcement agency and for the school district. “This is a valuable tool for public safety advocates to make the case for improving utilization at the local level,” Caruthers said.
Stepping Up: Florida’s Top Civil Citation Efforts also includes national rankings of states on the strength of related statutes and data reporting. Florida leads the nation with Pennsylvania in strength of state civil citation data reporting. The Civil Citation Dashboard, created by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, is a model for the nation, according to Caruthers. In a review of state statutes, Florida ranked seventh in the nation and was in the “moderate strength” category. This ranking was completed before the end of Florida’s 2015 legislative session, which passed a stronger civil citation law.