A small group of protesters joined together at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office on Monday morning in hopes of putting an end to what they call unnecessary arrests.

The group PACT, or People Acting for Community Together, delivered letters to State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s office. They want to put an end to the arrests of people with suspended licenses due to unpaid fees and fines.

They say the law unjustly punishes people who just can’t afford the fees.

The group said they hope the state attorney will sign a compact to end the practice by supporting the training of officers to issue civil citations in lieu of arrests for minor, non-safety-related infractions.

“It’s incredibly devastating to have an arrest record. As I’m sure many citizens know, although many may not know that when you have an arrest record it becomes very, very difficult to function in everyday society. When people are being arrested, simply because they couldn’t afford to pay a fine or fee, that to me is completely unacceptable,” said Jonathan Sepsenwol, vice president of PACT.

The group said thousands of Miami-Dade County drivers are driving with suspended licenses, most due to unpaid fees and fines for non-safety-related driving infractions.

Issuing civil citations instead of arresting someone has the support of Miami-Dade Police Director Stephanie Daniels, Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos J. Martinez, Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts & Comptroller Juan Fernandez-Barquin, and Association of Chiefs of Police Sam Bejar, according to PACT.

State Attorney Rundle has met with PACT in the past. According to a statement from her office, State Attorney Rundle has always championed civil citations since gaining support for this approach for juvenile offenders in 2007.

“As you know, the issuance of a civil citation rather than making an arrest is a decision made at the point of initial contact, not a matter that can be undone when the arrest form arrives at the State Attorney’s Office. This is why, as noted in the attached 2022 memo outlining her desire to see these reforms implemented, she has long been a proponent of utilizing civil citations for these situations,” said her office in a statement.

Miami-Dade was the first Florida community to utilize civil citations.

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