A community in Florida has recently announced a measure which may serve as a model for other Florida jurisdictions. For nearly 20 years, the community has been issuing civil citations for non-violent juveniles who have committed offenses ordinarily addressed by the criminal justice system. In a game-changing move, the community is also currently issuing civil citations for certain adult criminal offenses ordinarily worthy of arrest.
Florida has had a great deal of success keeping those convicted of juvenile offenses from disproportionately harsh consequences and a high rate of recidivism by exploring alternatives to incarcerating them for non-serious and non-violent offenses. Advocates of the new civil citation system in Leon County hope that adults and juveniles alike might be similarly benefitted from the civil citation incarceration alternative.
In fact, many criminal justice advocates are arguing that instituting the model being advanced in Leon County might save the state tens of millions of dollars in lock-up costs for non-violent adult offenders with no previous record of arrest.
Under the Leon County model, offenders are required to submit to an assessment within 72 hours of receiving a citation. After that point, offenders must complete mandatory community service and/or complete treatment for substance abuse, if that substance abuse contributed to the crime at issue.
For those who have no previous history of criminal conduct and who are non-violent, the civil citation model might allow them a critical second chance to remain free of the criminal justice system. If the model substantially benefits Leon County, it might be worth considering statewide.
Source: Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, “Success in Juvenile Justice Diversions May Influence Treatment of Adult Offenders in Florida,” James Swift, Nov. 14, 2012