The issue of civil citations has a powerful new supporter. New Florida Senate President Joe Negron, a Republican from Stuart, wants to see reforms within the juvenile justice system that allows young people to start their adult lives without a criminal record.
“We don’t want to stigmatize young people who made a poor judgment call,” said Negron, with the punishment “following them for the rest of their life.”
Negron and a growing number of community leaders are concerned that too many people arrested for minor offenses while young face ruined lives later. Among ramifications: being unable to join the military, obtain a job or qualify for college scholarships. With a civil citation, young people would complete a program that involves community service and education designed to deter a life of crime. As a result, the offense would not become part of their permanent record and they could continue to pursue their education and careers.
The Rev. Michael Anderson of the New Jerusalem Baptist Church is continuing to promote civil citations for juveniles who have been arrested for non-serious offenses. He is a leader with Broward Organized Leaders Doing Justice, Or BOLD Justice, an organization that urges better treatment for people who face significant disadvantages. He wants civil citations to be implemented throughout Florida.
“We as a state must turn a page and use civil citations with young people who have been arrested for non-serious offenses,” Anderson said.