Associated Industries of Florida. Getting Smart on Juvenile Crime in Florida: Taking It to The Next Level

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1 Associated Industries of Florida Getting Smart on Juvenile Crime in Florida: Taking It to The Next Level Reducing Juvenile Arrests by 40% Barney T. Bishop III Chairman Wansley Walters, Director Miami-Dade County Juvenile Services Department Tom Olk, Chief Executive Officer DISC Village, Inc. November 2010

2 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Associated Industries of Florida Foundation (AIF) and the Florida Juvenile Justice Association (FJJA) have a renewed focus to prevent youth from entering the juvenile justice system. The goal is to reach the most vulnerable/at-risk children in Florida through effective prevention, early intervention and diversion services at the community level. Yet, the need for secure detention, community supervision and specialized residential treatment services, in some cases, is understood. During fiscal year , a total of 85,527 distinct youth were referred to DJJ. 1 Of those youth, 47,139 (55%) committed misdemeanors. 2 In fact, misdemeanors account for over half of the referrals to DJJ and are typically the most common offenses juveniles commit. Getting smart on juvenile crime will require a simple but dramatic shift in current practices from an arrest model to early intervention and diversion by: (1) keeping youth that pose no real threats to public safety out of the juvenile justice system; (2) reducing the costs of processing youth for misdemeanors that take time and resources away from the juvenile justice system including: law enforcement, state attorneys, public defenders, probation, court personnel, etc.; and (3) freeing up limited resources to focus on more serious and violent offenders thus improving public safety. This will be accomplished by expanding Civil Citation programs statewide to divert misdemeanor offenders to integrated and coordinated systems of care that fit the needs of the youth and their families. In short, Civil Citation is an existing low-cost and proven-effective therapeutic and accountability mechanism that will save millions of dollars and increase public safety. Civil Citation was written into Florida Statutes for the purpose of providing an efficient and innovative alternative to custody by the Department of Juvenile Justice of children who commit non-serious delinquent acts and to ensure swift and appropriate consequences. 3 By establishing Civil Citation statewide, the Juvenile Justice System in Florida can focus limited resources to improve current programs that will in turn reduce juvenile crime and services required for re-offenders. Based upon the successes of established Civil Citation programs in Leon County and Miami-Dade County, it is anticipated that the number of juveniles processed through the system would be reduced by 40% 4 on a statewide basis (34,211 fewer juveniles). Given cost estimates of $5,000 5 versus $386 6, this alternative would save Florida taxpayers $157,849,554 ($171,055,000 - $13,205,446 = $157,849,554) 7. Clearly, Civil Citation is one of the best examples of a highly effective program as well as a significant and smart return on investment

3 The Next Level The priority of the Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Juvenile Justice Association is to expand the Civil Citation program into a statewide alternative route for first-time juvenile offenders. Development of such programs will require the cooperation of the legislature, the juvenile justice system, law enforcement, schools, businesses and community organizations across the state. By working with the community as a whole, efforts will be made to decriminalize minor misbehaviors, reduce juvenile crime and provide services for at-risk youth while keeping the juvenile justice system from incurring unnecessary costs. Youth are eligible for Civil Citation if they have committed a misdemeanor or violated a county or municipal ordinance and have no prior arrests or juvenile sanctions. In these cases, law enforcement officers have the discretion of either issuing civil citations or making arrests. When civil citations are issued, the youth and their parents/legal guardians are given seven days to contact the program and must agree to participate and abide by the rules of supervision as well as complete a thorough assessment. Civil Citation does not mean that the youth are excused from the mistakes or errors in judgment that were made. Case Managers and/or law enforcement can designate the number of community service hours to be completed and additional sanctions or services are assigned based upon the offenses committed and the assessment. These sanctions typically include the youth taking responsibility for their mistakes and admitting wrongdoing via essays or letters of apology, engaging in restorative justice (including restitution) to victims, and participating in specific interventions that address their individualized needs. All are held accountable and the families are involved in the services so that needs are more adequately met. Successful achievement of the program is determined by completion of the assigned community service hours and any additional sanctions and services within the required time frames. Further success is determined by the recidivism of the youth that have participated in the Civil Citation program. The chart below provides evidence of the successes of two model Civil Citation programs that have been in existence for over ten years. Achievements FY through FY Leon County 8 n = 814 Miami-Dade County 9 n = 6,400 Percent of participants who successfully complete the program in 6 months. 94% 84% Percent of participants who did not re-offend for 6 months after completing program. 89% 95% As seen above, it is generally rare in Civil Citation programs for a youth to fail to comply and not successfully complete their assigned sanctions/services. However, those who do fail are arrested and taken for processing. The State Attorney s Office then evaluates the need to pursue further legal action in order to address the original citation

4 A Quality Program Use of the Civil Citation program is a method that can help reduce the number of juveniles processed through the system and lead to cost savings across the state of Florida. The development of zero-tolerance in schools has led to needlessly criminalizing youth and creating a school-to-prison pipeline. 10 As such, utilizing Civil Citation would keep youth out of the juvenile delinquency system and from incurring juvenile records while providing a full assessment to address risks and needs so that appropriate treatments and/or referrals to community-based programs can be made. Young offenders are given a second chance to correct a lapse in judgment without incurring a damaging record. Certain core elements are essential components of a successful Civil Citation program. These elements are: Central data collection including 24-hour access to the Juvenile Justice Information System to determine eligibility and outcomes, Participation of and coordination with law enforcement, Comprehensive assessment, Case management services, Integrated and coordinated systems of care and diversion options that fit the needs of the youth and their families, and A steering committee consisting of key players, such as service providers, the state attorney, the public defender, judges and the school system, that will provide oversight, integrity, accountability and dissemination of program data and outcomes. The incorporation of all these elements is crucial not only for the program to run effectively, but to provide highly effective and thorough services to the youth and their families. A thorough assessment is critical to providing direction for addressing the true issues that created the situations/offenses of the youth. For example, the current assessment used in Leon County and Miami-Dade County addresses seven domains that are essential to determining areas to direct the treatment process: (1) Family/Social Supports, (2) Self Concept, (3) Peers/Activities, (4) Educational/Vocational, (5) Substance Use, (6) Psychological/Psychiatric History and (7) Physical Health History. This comprehensive screening and assessment focuses on identifying reasons for the problem behavior and the needs of the youth and their families, while maintaining a high degree of responsibility and accountability for youths actions. The Civil Citation program would not work without the support of law enforcement. School Resource Officers, especially, are inclined to look toward Civil Citation as a first resort to misbehavior. However, the community as a whole must be involved, and that means having the backing of local police departments and the sheriff. These entities must have working relationships with the juvenile assessment centers to determine if prior charges exist for the youth, as listed in the Juvenile Justice Information System. A Program with Benefits A recent report by the Eckerd Family Foundation established that Civil Citation has substantial benefits for all stakeholders in the juvenile justice system. The Foundation considers Civil Citation to be a holistic approach that holds youth offenders responsible for their actions while - 3 -

5 implementing community service, including screening for mental health and substance abuse, and requiring the participation of families. It reduces the burden on juvenile courts and leaves them better able to apply their already-stretched resources to violent and serious offenders, while reducing their expenses. It gives young offenders a second chance to make good. 11 The Civil Citation program reforms the current protocol on how law enforcement and the community address first-time misdemeanor offenders. More specifically: Civil Citation programs allow law enforcement to remain on the streets to be available for more serious and/or violent crimes, rather than transporting first-time misdemeanor offenders to an intake unit or juvenile assessment center. Civil Citation programs reduce the burden at all levels of the juvenile justice system by allowing limited resources to be applied to violent and serious offenders. Processing youth through the juvenile system for minor offenses takes time and resources away from law enforcement, the state attorney s office and probation officers that could be spent on more serious offenses. Civil Citation helps reduce the disproportionate number of minorities and females involved with the juvenile justice system. In Leon County, 54% of program participants are minorities and 47% are females. 12 In Miami-Dade County, 95% of program participants are minorities and 35% are females. 13 Providing swift and appropriate sanctions and services has the potential to keep them from entering the juvenile justice system which already has a disproportionate representation of these populations. Early intervention is highly effective at treating issues appropriately and more effectively, thereby reducing the cost to the system and improving outcomes. Civil Citation addresses the zero-tolerance policies in schools by providing more appropriate and productive alternative responses, rather than suspension or arrest. It further enhances the Florida Legislature s 2009 refinement of the state s zerotolerance law by offering an option for schools that allows for a graduated approach to the consequences of misbehaviors. 14 Civil Citation eliminates an unnecessary criminal record that can follow youth and hinder them for their ENTIRE life. In Miami-Dade County, 37 Police Departments signed individually to support and utilize Civil Citation for all first time misdemeanors (three charges are reviewed and considered on case by case basis). This allows the program to be a systemic improvement and generate even more cost savings. Despite the option of Civil Citation programs, they are not widely implemented across Florida. However, those communities that have put Civil Citation programs into practice have experienced remarkable successes and significant savings. The bar graph shown in the Executive Summary provides an example of the potential savings to be garnered from diverting just 40% of the youth into Civil Citation programs as an alternative to involvement in the system

6 Summary If the Florida Legislature, Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Juvenile Justice Association are committed to providing a continuum of services that have a balanced and fair approach to juvenile justice in Florida, applying the successes of existing Civil Citation programs, such as those in Leon and Miami-Dade Counties, on a statewide level has the potential to reduce Florida s juvenile crime rate, lead to improved recidivism rates, save money and increase public safety. Implementation of Civil Citation statewide will better serve the justice system, Florida communities, the youth and their families. Resources Cited 1- Florida Department of Juvenile Justice 2009 Florida Comprehensive Accountability Report Intake Services 2- Department of Juvenile Justice Bureau of Research and Planning 3- Florida Statute Title XLVII Chapter 985 Section Information gathered from: DISC Village, Inc. Juvenile Assessment Center Quarterly Data Report Fiscal Year End Report FY and Miami-Dade County Juvenile Services Department Juvenile Justice Model Presentation at Juvenile Justice Summit May 16, Originally cited in as $4,500 by Dr. Donald Meichenbaum of the Melissa Institute. Based upon consensus of various criminal justice and community professionals, the amount has been increased to $5, Average cost associated with Civil Citation is $374 in Leon County (DISC Village, Inc. Controller based on FY numbers) and $398 in Miami-Dade County (Miami-Dade Juvenile Services Department Cost Analysis Miami-Dade County Office of Strategic Business Management). This calculates an average of $ Average cost of processing through justice system of 40% of the youth = 34,211 x $5,000 = $171,055,000; Average cost of Civil Citation of 40% of the youth = 34,211 x $368 = $13,205,446; Difference in expenses = $171,055,000 - $13,205,446 = $157,849,554 for a savings of 92.28%. 8- DISC Village, Inc. Civil Citation Quarterly Report Fourth Quarter FY ; DISC Village, Inc. Civil Citation Quarterly Report Fourth Quarter FY Miami-Dade County Juvenile Services Department Senior Public Policy Analyst 10- Advancement Project Test, Punish, and Push Out: How Zero Tolerance and High-Stakes Testing Funnel Youth Into the School-to-Prison Pipeline January Eckerd Family Foundation Appropriate Punishment: Civil Citations for Juvenile Misbehavior 12- DISC Village, Inc. Juvenile Assessment Center Quarterly Data Report Fiscal Year End Report FY Miami-Dade County Juvenile Services Department Juvenile Justice Model Presentation at Juvenile Justice Summit May 16, Advancement Project Test, Punish, and Push Out: How Zero Tolerance and High-Stakes Testing Funnel Youth Into the School-to-Prison Pipeline January

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