Across Florida, municipalities are saving millions and keeping youth who do not need formal processing out of the system through the use of civil citations. Civil citations are eligible only for youth who have committed a misdemeanor or local ordinance violation, and involve supervision, treatment, and community service in lieu of arrest.

In return, a youth has the opportunity to learn from his or her mistakes and avoid formal processing, and the county can save money in law enforcement and court costs. And youths who received a civil citation reoffend far less than those on probation, which is likely where those youths would have been placed after formal processing.

The system is so successful that the Florida Secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice, Wansley Walters, is personally travelling to counties that have not yet fully implemented a civil citations system and encouraging them to do so. This effort is in conjunction with Secretary Walters’ efforts to reduce unnecessary placements in state secure facilities. Florida’s juvenile facilities currently house a large number of low- and medium-risk youth that could safely be placed in other more effective programs at a significant cost savings.