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New Study Published on Use of Juvenile Civil Citations in Florida

Dewey & Associates released a new study on the use of juvenile civil citations in Florida during 2016, Stepping Up: Florida’s Top Juvenile Civil Citation Efforts. Key findings include:

  1. The statewide juvenile civil citation utilization rate increased by five percent from 38% in fiscal year (FY) 2013-2014 to 43% in FY 2014-2015. Based on the average upward trend of six percent since 2011-2012, juvenile civil citation utilization will reach the 90-percent range by 2023.
  2. In 2016, 22 school districts had zero utilization—meaning that law enforcement arrested juveniles rather than issuing citations. 13 counties also had zero utilization. Both the number of school districts and counties with zero utilization increased from 2015. This year, there were also 159 law enforcement agencies with zero utilization—a decrease from 191 in 2015.
  3. Unequal justice by geography continues. Common youth misbehavior eligible for juvenile civil citations can vary by county, by city, and by agency. This means two youth committing the same exact civil citation-eligible offense can result in one being issued a civil citation and the other being arrested.
  4. Dismissals—cases where juveniles are arrested but not prosecuted—increased from 20% in FY 2013-1024 to 21% in FY 2015-2016.
  5. Increasing the statewide use of juvenile civil citations by 25% will result in $16.2 million to $50.9 million of “law and order” resources available to address felonies instead, as well as a reduction of 44% in arrests for common youth misbehavior. Increasing statewide use up to 75% will result in $19.8 million to $62.4 million of “law and order” resources available to address felonies instead, as well as a reduction of 56% in arrests for common youth misbehavior.
  6. The recidivism rate for juveniles issued civil citations is 5%, while the recidivism rate for citation-eligible juveniles arrested is 9%.
  7. Juvenile civil citations issued in FY 2014-2015 saved taxpayers between $13.1 million to $41.3 million—finances that can be used by law enforcement to address more serious crimes.
  8. For civil citation utilization rates in FY 2014-2015, Osceola County ranked 27th (21.24%) and Orange County ranked 29th (16.96%) out of 35 of the state’s largest counties (100 or more eligible youth). Osceola County School District ranked 17th (30.23%) and Orange County Public Schools ranked 19th (27.85%) out of the 22 largest school districts (100 or more eligible youth). Law enforcement agencies in Orange County and Osceola County ranked as follows :
    • Jurisdictions with 100 or more eligible youth (out of 62):
      • Osceola County Sheriff’s Office – 41st (33.13%)
      • Orange County Sheriff’s Office – 48th (23.48%)
      • Kissimmee Police Department – 57th (4.73%)
      • Orlando Police Department – 58th (3.59%)
    • Jurisdictions with 31-99 eligible youth (out of 59):
      • Ocoee Police Department – 23rd (41.05%)
      • Winter Garden Police Department – 46th (6.35%)
      • Apopka Police Department and St. Cloud Police Department – 49th (0.00%)
    • Jurisdictions with 30 or less than eligible youth (out of 254)
      • Windermere Police Department – 1st (100.00%)
      • UCF Police Department – 75th (50.00%)
      • Agricultural and Consumer Services, Department of Business and Professional Regulation (Orange County), Eatonville Police Department, Florida Highway Patrol Troop D, Maitland Police Department, Ninth Judicial Circuit Juvenile Justice, Oakland Police Department, Winter Park Police Department, and Osceola County Corrections Department – 121st (0.00%)

The study also makes a number of recommendations:

  1. In rare and exceptional circumstances for using an arrest rather than a civil citation, law enforcement should document, justify, and have supervisory approval.
  2. For some offenses with younger children, law enforcement should take no action other than allowing school officials and parents handle the behavior.
  3. Dramatically increase juvenile civil citation utilization rates in Duval County and Hillsborough County, and continue the upward trend in Orange County. These three counties alone comprise of 24% of all of the state’s arrest for common youth misbehavior.
  4. Increase statewide utilization rate to 75% by end of calendar year 2017.
  5. All counties, school districts, and law enforcement agencies should use civil citations.
  6. Provide programs with data on the impact of recent legislation allowing youth to receive multiple civil citations to make better decisions.