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Nassau County School District ranks among top-performing districts in Florida civil citation study

Dewey & Associates Press Release
Contact:Dewey Caruthers
[email protected]

July 29, 2015 8:30 a.m.

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“Stepping Up: Florida’s Top Civil Citation Efforts” reveals more civil citations would increase public safety investment battling serious crime.

TALLAHASSEE, FL (July 16, 2015) A study released by one of Florida’s top civil citation experts and supported by state and national juvenile justice reform organizations ranked Nassau County School District as the third-best in district two in the state.

Additionally, the study reveals that increasing the use of civil citations statewide would have enormous benefits for public safety, taxpayers, and the futures of youth. For example, increasing the issuance of juvenile civil citations by just 25 percent statewide would allow law & order entities to increase investment in preventing and addressing serious crime, such as felonies, by $19.7 million to $61.6 million. It could also generate lower recidivism rates — the recidivism rate for civil citations is 4%, while the rate for post-arrest diversion is 13%.

Civil Citation experts and advocates made several recommendations to improve civil citation utilization rates, including statewide funding in the form of a $2 million grant pool to enhance civil citation training opportunities for law enforcement, establish a network to share information and best practices, and to increase utilization by improving and expanding civil citation programs throughout Florida. The advocates and experts plan to approach the Florida Legislature next session in this regard.

Civil citations are an alternative to arrest for common youth misbehavior. The study — Stepping Up: Florida’s Top Civil Citation Efforts – is the first comprehensive review of statewide civil citation utilization and effectiveness.

“Which taxpayer wouldn’t want common youth misbehavior to be handled more efficiently and effectively so that public safety resources shift to preventing serious crimes?” said Dewey Caruthers, president of dewey & associates, which conducted the study.

Stepping Up, slated to become an annual study, is supported by The Children’s Campaign. The 2015 study sponsors include Florida State University Project on Accountable Justice, James Madison Institute, The Southern Poverty Law Center, and Joseph W. & Terrell S. Clark.

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Stepping Up ranked the top-performing county efforts based on civil citation utilization, which is the percentage of eligible youth who received a civil citation. Data is from fiscal year 2013-2014. Additionally, each county effort was separated into divisions based on eligible youth as described below, with the top 20 percent being ranked:

School District Division One: Top 20% (100 or more eligible youth)
1st: Dade 2nd: Pinellas 3rd: Broward 4th: Marion

School District Division Two: Top 20% (31-99 eligible youth)
1st: Marion 2nd: Hernando 3rd: Nassau 4th: Okaloosa

School District Division Three: Top 20% (30 or less eligible youth)
1st: Hamilton 2nd: Wakulla 3rd: Union 4th: Lafayette 5th: Okeechobee

“There are many effective civil citation programs that deserve recognition for increasing public safety, improving youth opportunities and saving taxpayer money in their communities,” Caruthers said.

“While issuing civil citations allows a better use of millions of public safety dollars, benefits for Florida youth are actually priceless,” said Roy Miller, president of The Children’s Campaign, Florida’s leading child advocacy organization for juvenile justice reform. “Since youth aren’t arrested, future employment and education opportunities remain open to them. In addition, there’s no need to expunge juvenile records, which is difficult and expensive, as well as nearly impossible for some youth.”

A companion piece to the study, “Stepping Up County Civil Citation Reports,” provides insight into each county’s performance by law enforcement agency and for the school district. “This is a valuable tool for public safety advocates to make the case for improving utilization at the local level,” Caruthers said.

All 67 county reports are available with the study at www.iamforkids.org/civilcitationreport.

Stepping Up: Florida’s Top Civil Citation Efforts also includes national rankings of states on the strength of related statutes and data reporting. Florida leads the nation with Pennsylvania in strength of state civil citation data reporting. The Civil Citation Dashboard, created by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, is a model for the nation, according to Caruthers. In a review of state statutes, Florida ranked seventh in the nation and was in the “moderate strength” category. This ranking was completed before the end of Florida’s 2015 legislative session, which passed a stronger civil citation law.

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