October 27, 2015. jacksonville.com
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office made new commitments to increase its use of juvenile civil citations at a meeting on Tuesday night of dozens of local faith congregations at Christ the King Catholic Church in Arlington.
Undersheriff Pat Ivey stood before hundreds of members of the Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation and Empowerment — called ICARE — and pledged to increase department training, work to get more business participating and expand the eligible offenses in relation to the civil citation program.
Civil citations are alternatives to arrest for juvenile misdemeanor offenders and require that juveniles go through a restorative justice process instead of the formal delinquency process.
ICARE’s Nancy Ricker stood next to Ivey and asked him a number of questions regarding the Sheriff’s Office’s commitment to the citation program, and the undersheriff agreed to each one, including working with ICARE to create a public service announcement about the program and working with the State Attorney’s Office to increase the use of citations for cases of battery without injury, which Ricker said would include things such as “schoolyard fights.” State Attorney Angela Corey does not allow battery charges to receive civil citations, and instead may send these cases through her office’s diversion program for arrests.
Ricker said it is her goal to offer kids a second chance in Duval County. She cited Florida Department of Juvenile Justice data that show less than a third of eligible youth in Duval receive civil citations. That figure is 43 percent statewide, according to the DJJ.
“For this to change, we need our state attorney and sheriff to change their stances of the type of offenses that can receive civil citations,” Ricker said.
Ivey, who appeared at ICARE on behalf of Sheriff Mike Williams, who is out of town, said the Sheriff’s Office is taking many steps to move toward greater civil citation use, including some that are already underway.
A policy change was sent out on Aug. 18, giving officers the option to issue civil citations when youth mouth off to or run away from officers, as well as giving false information, Ivey said.
Within the last month, lieutenants have been assigned to attend the neighborhood accountability boards that handle the citation cases, Ivey said. Lieutenants also underwent training on the program on Oct. 3, and all the department sergeants will be training between now and January, he said.
Part of the department’s commitment also includes reaching out to area businesses and encouraging them to be willing participants in the program in instances of retail theft, Ivey said.
Each commitment Ivey announced was met with applause from the congregation.
Ricker said in Orlando, 90 percent of the youth who complete the civil citation process do not re-offend. For Jacksonville-area teens who complete Teen Court or a neighborhood accountability board, 92 percent do not re-offend within the following year.