Our second annual comprehensive study of Florida’s alternatives to juvenile arrests for common youth misbehavior – called “Stepping Up: Florida’s Top Juvenile Civil Citation Efforts 2016” – shows counties that arresting youth rather than issue civil citations create more reoffenders who generate more crime, running counter to law enforcement’s basic responsibility to reduce crime. Juvenile civil citations are an alternative to arrest for common youth misbehavior.
Our analysis shows increasing the use of civil citations statewide up to 75% would enable law & order entities to invest up to $62 million in preventing and addressing felonies and serious crimes, as well as significantly improve life outcomes for nearly 7,000 arrested youth.
This year’s study supports – in more depth and with more data – last year’s findings that civil citations increase public safety, improve youth outcomes and save taxpayer money. We are unable to find any data that shows arresting youth for common youth misbehavior instead of issuing civil citations is a good idea.
Stepping Up 2016 also reveals three counties – Duval, Hillsborough, Orange – were responsible for 24% of all arrests (totaling nearly 3,000) for common youth misbehavior in FY 2014-2015.
Our nonpartisan study is supported by The Children’s Campaign, Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU, Joseph W. & Terrell S. Clark, Jessie Ball duPont Fund, Florida State University Project on Accountable Justice, James Madison Institute and Florida PTA.
Stepping Up 2016 recognizes the state’s top-performing counties, school districts and law enforcement agencies, which are categorized by division based on eligible youth. The top performing counties include Baker, Bay, Broward, Dade, Lafayette, Leon, Pinellas, Seminole, Marion, Monroe, Nassau, Union, Wakulla.
Additionally, Stepping Up 2016 reveals Florida leads the nation in the prioritization of pre-arrest diversions to curb juvenile crime and reduce incarceration. Our study ranks states by the strength of civil citation-related statutes and statewide civil citation data reporting. Arizona, Florida and Nebraska are identified as having the strongest state civil citation / prearrest diversion statutes; and Florida and Pennsylvania rated as having the strongest state data reporting. Statutes chart the state’s path toward success with civil citation; and statewide data reporting is arguably the most important asset for a state to move toward utilizing civil citations / pre-arrest diversion.