Florida counties are increasingly turning to civil citations rather than arresting juveniles suspected of committing minor crimes, reports the Tampa Bay Times. According to a recent study, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Pinellas Counties lead the state in the use of juvenile civil citations. Issuance of civil citations, as opposed to arrest, has been show to improve outcomes for both juveniles and the criminal justice system. Juveniles issued civil citations have a lower likelihood of recidivism and consequences for juveniles with arrest records may follow the juvenile into adulthood. Adults with juvenile arrest records may have difficulties finding employment or enlisting in the military as a result of the record. Civil citations have also been shown to benefit the criminal justice system. The expense of issuing a civil citation is $389, compared to the $5,000 cost of process a youth through the criminal justice system. The study concluded that a 25% increase in the use of civil citations would save taxpayers between $18 million and $61 million a year.
During the 2015 regular session, the Florida Legislature adopted legislation enabling law enforcement officers to issue a warning to juveniles and to issue juvenile civil citations up to three times to a child for misdemeanor offenses. The full study is available here.