During the 1990s, gangs and other organized criminals were exploiting Florida’s youth by getting them to commit violent crimes. The violent crime rate among juveniles in the state was so high that people from all over the world were discouraged from visiting Florida, according to the Miami-Dade Juvenile Services Department (JSD).
By 1995, there were 20,000 juvenile arrests in Miami-Dade County, reports the JSD. In an effort to overhaul Miami-Dade’s juvenile arrest process, the Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) was established in 1997 – a “community partnership under the leadership of the Miami-Dade Police Department,” says the JSD.
Today, the JAC Partnership has multiple members, including the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, the Miami-Dade Public Schools, the Miami Department of Corrections, and more.
United, these government agencies work together to address a troubled youth’s individual needs, and where appropriate, get him or her the help they need to reduce the chances of re-offending. One such method is the civil citation program, which I am going to explain below.
What is the civil citation program?
The civil citation program represents a systemic change in the way that the juvenile justice system handles troubled youth who commit first-time offenses in Miami-Dade County.
Under the civil citation program, if a juvenile commits a minor offense, he or she is given the opportunity to receive targeted treatment services without the stigma of an arrest.
Civil citations are an unprecedented initiative, brought to the community by the Miami-Dade County Association of Chiefs of Police and the Office of the State Attorney. This program altered the standard protocol for handling youth who commit first-time, minor offenses.
How is this new initiative different than before? Nowadays, instead of arresting a young person, officers refer eligible offenders to customized youth services, made available to arrested youth.
According to the JSD, civil citations have been very effective; since April of 2007, they’ve led to a 23% reduction in arrests and referrals to the JSD.
How does it work? Children between the ages of 8 and 17, who commit minor misdemeanor offenses are given the opportunity to receive targeted interventions without being arrested.
Is your child or teen in trouble with the law?
If your child or teen is in trouble with the law, I urge you to contact me for legal advice. Whether this is your child’s first, second, or subsequent offense, I can help. As a former prosecutor with over 30 years of experience in criminal defense, I can protect your child’s legal rights and their future!