Crime is down across the nation, and juvenile arrests fell 50 percent between 1994 and 2009. But two Florida counties are seeing almost double the average decrease due to a new civil citation program for first-time offenders.

Arrests on school grounds decreased by 16 percent across Florida, but Volusia and Flager counties, which have implemented a civil citation program for first-time misdemeanants, saw decreases of 23 and 29 percent.

Under the program, if a youth admits his or her guilt, performs community service, and participates in any required intervention services, the criminal charges are dropped in lieu of a civil citation.

Diverting low-level first-time offenders from the juvenile justice system not only decreases the costs involved with formal adjudication, but also prevents the collateral consequences from justice system involvement for juveniles, and can prevent the cycle of criminality that often begins with a juvenile’s first justice system contact.