A Path Forward for Civil Citation Expansion: Advancing Public Safety and Improving Youth Outcomes in Hillsborough County May 2015
Introduction In August 2014, the Project on Accountable Justice (PAJ)1 entered an agreement with the Hillsborough County Juvenile Justice Board, as approved and funded by the Hillsborough County Commission,2 to provide non‐biased, research‐informed facilitation services to Hillsborough County in order to advance public safety and youth outcomes through the improvement of a process known as “civil citation.” Civil citation is similar to a “ticket” or “notice to appear” and is a process that provides Florida youth a one‐ time opportunity to avoid the consequences of an arrest, while still providing an accountability mechanism that ensures appropriate sanctions, interventions, and services are offered for a first‐time non‐serious misdemeanor.3 In Hillsborough County, this civil citation processing is administered through the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) as the Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program (JAAP). The purpose of this engagement was to present a set of goals intended to forge a path forward for the community in ensuring civil citation is meeting the full promise of its intended role in a coordinated, cost‐ effective local and state juvenile justice system. These goals were to be distilled through PAJ’s observations gathered through: 1) discussions with key stakeholders, including, but not limited to: county officials, school officials, courts officials, law enforcement, state attorney/public defender, service providers, and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice;4 2) review of state and local data; 3) review of previous and any ongoing work in identifying the existing service and implementation gaps;5 and 4) a structured questionnaire.6 PAJ’s engagement began—and continues—with an understanding that all stakeholders are working towards achieving positive community outcomes, namely advancing public safety and improving the lives 1
The Project on Accountable Justice (PAJ) is a nonpartisan, independent research‐and public‐education institution housed at the Florida State University. A partnership of Florida State University, Baylor University, St. Petersburg College, and Tallahassee Community College, PAJ is dedicated to advancing public safety through evidence and research. See: iog.fsu.edu/paj/ 2 See: Recap of Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners meeting, August 20, 2014 at: http://agenda.hillsboroughcounty.org/cache/00003/515/08‐20‐14%20Recap%20Memo.pdf 3 s. 985.12, Florida Statutes 4 A list of stakeholder interviews is provided as Appendix B 5 th See: Hillsborough County Juvenile Justice Task Force, Juvenile Civil Citation Final Report, May 2011; Dembo, R., Process Evaluation of the 13 Judicial Circuit, Juvenile Diversion Program, Juvenile Alternative to Arrest Program, September 2011; and Meyers, K., Hillsborough County Civil Citation Program Final Evaluation Report: Assessing the existing service delivery system for youth referred from the Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program (JAAP) (i.e. civil citation program) so as to develop a strategy to design future evaluations and to understand service effectiveness, November 2013. 6 See Appendix C, entitled: Structured Questionnaire. This document was sent via email to members of the Circuit Advisory Board/Juvenile Justice Board to begin the process of engagement and to gauge stakeholder interest areas.
of Hillsborough County youth through the community‐supported use of civil citation. An initial draft of this report was presented to the Hillsborough County Juvenile Justice Board on March 20, 2015. At this meeting, several questions and concerns were raised. This report reflects follow up to this discussion, notably marked progress in key areas, showing continuing community engagement in the success of the JAAP. This report and recommendations are the result of this engagement. Observations and recommendations are those of the Project on Accountable Justice, including any identified system challenges that remain as barriers to continued progress.
Summary of Observations PAJ observed positive community support for the current civil citation process. The stakeholders shared a desire to improve and enhance the Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program, and the level of community dialogue and engagement appears positive. Challenges remain in bridging circuit‐wide and cross‐agency communication gaps, which appear to weaken confidence in the system. On the whole, the stakeholders hope to see civil citation offered to as many currently eligible youth as possible across the circuit. There was no concern expressed regarding inappropriate or over use of civil citation through its current framework, which is now nearly four years post‐countywide implementation. In measuring satisfaction with the process on a scale of one to ten, stakeholders who reported the lowest satisfaction (no less than a five, or neutral, on a scale to ten) all suggested expansion as a remedy toward improvement. However, this is not the case with all stakeholders. The most challenging community divide exists regarding whether Hillsborough County should expand its current list of civil citation eligible offenses7 to include misdemeanor marijuana possession. Hillsborough County is the only county (of the 59 of Florida’s 67 counties that have some process in place for juvenile civil citation) in the state that excludes misdemeanor drug possession as an eligible offense.8 Finally, in reviewing previous evaluations,9 which most recently examined systemic processing and service provision extensively, it appears that some observable weaknesses remain, but solutions are in development as well as achievable, though may depend upon additional community resources and fall outside the purview of the administrative staff who are charged with the responsibility of operating the Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program. This is particularly evident given the county’s commitment to enlist the outside expertise of Dr. Kathleen Meyers to follow up on her previous evaluation10 with technical 7
The 13 Judicial Circuit currently allows the following offenses as eligible for civil citation processing through the Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program for youth ages 8‐17: theft (value less than $300), criminal mischief (damage less than $1,000), trespassing, simple battery/assault, disorderly conduct, affray, disruption of a school function, and simple possession of alcohol. County and city ordinances are also listed as eligible for civil citation. 8 See Appendix E: Civil Citation Eligibility Criteria by Circuit and County. 9 See Footnote 4. 10 Meyers, K., Hillsborough County Civil Citation Program Final Evaluation Report: Assessing the existing service delivery system for youth referred from the Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program (JAAP) (i.e. civil citation program) so as to develop a strategy to design future evaluations and to understand service effectiveness, November 2013.
assistance in “Infrastructure Development and Standardization of Program Operations within the JAAP.” An update of progress was provided by the JAAP to PAJ after the release of PAJ’s draft report on March 20, 2015. Significant progress has been made through the ongoing development of standardized operating procedures in the administration of the Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program. Challenges remain in 1) securing additional funding sources in order to access treatment services for some clients; 2) filling gaps in options like mentoring programs in order to meet the individualized needs of all youth across the community; 3) implementing an outcome evaluation process for service providers; and 4) providing transportation services.11 While there is obvious dedication from staff and engaged community leaders to the success of civil citation, benchmarking progress should be an integral and essential strategy for overall systemic advancement. The daily operations of the program appear to be headed in a positive trajectory, but more effort can be made to directly engage more stakeholders in monitoring the implementation of the program, tracking system outcomes, and addressing shortfalls that are beyond the purview of the dedicated staff. The following PAJ recommendations build upon the strengths of Hillsborough’s support for civil citation, are complementary to the previous and ongoing work of other consultants and the Juvenile Justice Board, and reflect the observations gathered over the past several months through this engagement.
Summary of Recommendations 1) Do More of What Works (follow the evidence): a) Ensure Optimal Utilization Across the Circuit b) Establish a “Friendly Door” Option c) Implement specific protocols for handling dual system/crossover youth d) Expand Eligibility to Include Marijuana Possession 2) Improve Data Reporting and Communication
Florida Civil Citations Provide Multiple Benefits. 1) Keeps Florida youth from entering the juvenile justice system 2) Avoids detrimental consequences of an arrest record 3) Saves taxpayer dollars 4) Frees up resources 5) Provides services based on needs assessment 6) Reduces disproportionate representation 7) Addresses zero tolerance Policies See: Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Civil Citation Presentation at: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/prob ation‐policy‐memos/2014‐civil‐ citation‐ powerpoint.pdf?Status=Master&sfvr sn=8
Background: Success with Civil Citation in Florida and Hillsborough County In 2011, the large number of Florida’s children entering the juvenile justice system for misdemeanors – coupled with research and data at both the state and national level revealing that two‐thirds of these youth would not be arrested again following an 18‐month period12 – prompted 11
Meyers, K., (July 2014). Infrastructure Development and Standardization of Program Operations within the JAAP [PowerPoint Presentation]. Florida Department of Juvenile Justice point to a five‐year analysis of data that show that that two‐thirds of youth arrested for a first‐time misdemeanor are not
Florida to take an intentional policy step toward intervening less punitively, though not less accountably, with children facing misdemeanor offenses. Though juvenile civil citation previously existed as an option for jurisdictions, the 2011 Florida Legislature instead required that civil citations (also known as arrest avoidance programs) be offered to youth in all Florida communities.13 According to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, 17 counties operated civil citation programs prior to the passage of the 2011 legislation. As of October 2014, there were 59 counties with active and developing civil citation processes.14 The extent to which a county deploys civil citation as an option for law enforcement varies greatly from county to county, within counties, and within more targeted areas including school sites. Across Florida, civil citation provides a non‐criminal alternative to traditional arrest and prosecution to youth at first contact with law enforcement for non‐serious, nonviolent, first‐time misdemeanors. Providing a swift, certain, and proportionate accountability mechanism to address common youthful misbehaviors, Florida law enforcement maintains discretion to issue civil citations in lieu of an arrest in accordance with s. 985.12, Florida Statutes (see Appendix A). Youth must admit guilt to participate in an entirely voluntary process and will be processed as an arrest for failure to meet the requirements of the agreement. Florida law requires an intake assessment be given, appropriate targeted interventions be provided, and accountability sanctions be imposed, including mandatory community service of up to 50 hours, for all youth in order to avoid the more lasting detrimental consequences of formal judicial processing and juvenile justice system referral. With successful participation, civil citation offers Florida youth a voluntary one‐time opportunity to correct one incident of non‐serious childhood delinquency. If a youth fails to complete the requirements and sanctions of their civil citation agreement, they will be formally processed in the juvenile justice system, which may include arrest and prosecution for their original offense.15 In Hillsborough County, Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit, the history of juvenile civil citation has been well documented, having begun with the establishment of a school‐based pilot civil citation program during the 2005‐2006 School Year noting the county’s high number of juvenile misdemeanor arrests, the highest number in the state. In 2011, Hillsborough County further expanded civil citation processing circuit‐wide through a memorandum of understanding between all law enforcement officers offering one‐time, first‐ arrested again during an 18‐month follow up period. See: Don A. Andrews and James Bonta, “The Psychology of Criminal Conduct,” 3rd edition, Cincinnati, OH: Anderson Pub. Co., 2003, as referenced in the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, “Roadmap to System Excellence,” August 2013, at page 31, accessed at: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/town‐hall‐meetings/roadmap‐to‐system‐excellence_8‐1‐ 2013.pdf?sfvrsn=0. Research recognizes the “risk principle” that demonstrates that more intensive supervision of low‐risk youth actually increases the likelihood of reoffending while diversion is the most effective strategy for addressing low‐risk youth. See Department of Juvenile Justice Briefing, the Risk Principle: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/research2/briefing‐report‐the‐risk‐principle.pdf?sfvrsn=0. 13 The Florida Legislature passed CS/HB 997 on May 2, 2011. 14 See: Florida Department of Juvenile Civil Citation or Similar Diversion program map dated October 2014 at: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/probation‐policy‐memos/counties‐with‐cc‐as‐of‐april‐21‐2014.pdf?Status=Master&sfvrsn=2 15 For a complete overview of Florida civil citation, see: Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Civil Citation Implementation Guide at http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/partners‐providers‐staff/civil‐citation‐implementation‐guide.pdf?sfvrsn=8
time citations in lieu of arrest for eight agreed upon, eligible misdemeanor offenses.16 The Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program of the Administrative Office of the Courts is home to this process in Circuit 13. Hillsborough County began with approximately 400 civil citations issued in the first full school year via the more limited school‐based program (2006‐2007), and most recently issued 500 county‐wide in 2013‐ 2014.17 One of the State of Florida’s most remarkable public safety stories has been the continuing decrease in juvenile crime. As reported by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, juvenile arrests are down 36% since 2009 statewide, the lowest in more than 30 years. The declines appear in almost every category of offense statewide.18
Florida 5‐Year Delinquency Trends
38% Reduction in Total Delinquency
Reduction in Felonies
41% Reduction in Misdemeanors
Source: Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Delinquency Profile, at: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/research/delinquency‐data/delinquency‐profile
See: Hillsborough County Juvenile Justice Task Force, Juvenile Civil Citation Final Report, May 2011, at p. 18. See Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Civil Citation Dashboard 2013‐2014, accessed at: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/research/delinquency‐data/civil‐citation‐dashboard/cc‐dashboard 18 Five‐year data show overall declines statewide in all misdemeanor offense categories; all felony offense categories, with the exception of felony grand larceny (excluding auto theft, which increased by three percent; and all “other” offense categories (includes county ordinances, violations of probation, contempt of court, etc.). Source: Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Delinquency Profile, 2009‐2014, at: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/research/delinquency‐data/delinquency‐profile/delinquency‐profile‐dashboard. 17
5‐Year Florida Juvenile Arrests 140,000 121,734 110,419 120,000 97,234 100,000 85,601 78,447 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000 0 Hillsborough County experienced notable declines in juvenile crime as well. While statewide delinquency is down 36% over a five‐year period, in Hillsborough County it is down 33%. 6,000
5,000 4,000 3,000
5‐Year Hillsborough County Juvenile Arrests, Down 33%
Further, juvenile arrests for misdemeanor offenses—those targeted for reduction by Florida’s civil citations—are down even more, both at the state level and in Hillsborough County.
5‐Year Florida Juvenile Misdemeanor Arrests, Down 41% 70,000 60,000 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0
Over the past five years, Florida decreased misdemeanor arrests by 41% (above) while Hillsborough County decreased misdemeanor arrests by 39% (below).
5‐Year Hillsborough County Juvenile Misdemeanor Arrests, Down 39% 6,000 5,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 0
Tracking these data is important for its fundamental impact to public safety: less crime translates to fewer victims, less taxpayer burden, healthier families and communities and better outcomes for youth. Tracking these data is also a vitally important accountability mechanism—a check on the overall effectiveness of our juvenile justice system, which in Florida is deeply dependent upon engagement at the local circuit, county, and community levels in addition to the policy framework and guidance provided by the state. If the fundamental purpose of the juvenile justice system is to curb delinquency, then it would appear that Florida is steadily heading in the right direction.19 19
The U.S. is also experiencing a longer‐term national decline in juvenile crime as well, which has declined 11 percent year‐to‐year in 2011, and is down a total of 31 percent since 2002. See: Puzzanchera, C. (2013). Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice. “Juvenile Arrests 2011,” accessed at: http://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/244476.pdf.
Reviewing these data provides insight not only into what patterns of misbehavior youth are falling into, but also how well juvenile justice systems are responding. The data reflect a reduction in delinquency, but also illustrate the effectiveness of a recent portfolio of purposeful policy and practice strategies.
“Although juvenile arrest rates for many crimes are at their lowest levels in more than 30 years, many states and communities are instituting legislative, policy, and practice changes to reduce juvenile arrests even further. As a growing body of evidence underscores the corrosive effects that system involvement and confinement can have on healthy adolescent emotional, mental, behavioral, and social development, many jurisdictions are examining and developing ways to divert nonserious offenders from entering the system.” Robert L. Listenbee, Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Florida’s juvenile justice system has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past several years, notably since the beginning of 2011 under the Scott Administration led by then‐Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters and continuing under the leadership of current Secretary Christina Daly. This transformation has been driven through a multi‐faceted strategic plan20 that places an emphasis on prevention and early intervention through individualized rehabilitative strategies aimed to redirect youthful misbehavior early. Statewide strategic goals intend to lead Florida away from an historical reliance on ineffective, harmful, and expensive practices that over‐emphasized arrest, detention, and incarceration. Instead, the state is undergoing a promising shift, an evolution that is growing in breadth across the nation and backed by years and reams of research that recognizes that the more deeply a youth goes into the system, the more negative and costly the outcomes become.21 One vital component of the State’s strategies to continue to reduce delinquency has noticeably been the statewide expansion of a civil citation process.
Strategic Goals of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Prevent and divert more youth from entering the juvenile justice system. Provide appropriate, less restrictive, community‐ based sanctions and services. Reserve more serious sanctions for youth who pose the greatest risk to public safety. Focus on rehabilitation.
The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice’s comprehensive reform package has contributed to continuing declines in notable categories such as arrests, placement in secure detention, and in residential commitments. An example of the immediate impact of civil citation is noted in the figures shared on the following page, which specifically identifies the significant decrease in arrests in Broward County, while noting the corresponding increase in the use of civil citations.
Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Roadmap to System Excellence, 2013, found at: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/town‐hall‐ meetings/roadmap‐to‐system‐excellence_8‐1‐2013.pdf?sfvrsn=0, accessed on November 20, 2014. 21 Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Roadmap to System Excellence, 2013, found at: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/town‐hall‐ meetings/roadmap‐to‐system‐excellence_8‐1‐2013.pdf?sfvrsn=0, accessed on November 20, 2014.
As reported recently by the Department of Juvenile Justice, overall delinquency declined throughout most of Florida during FY 2013‐14. The changes highlighted below reflect the percentage change between FY 2012‐13 and FY 2013‐14. • Felony offenses declined by ‐3%. • Misdemeanor offenses declined by ‐11%. • “Other” offenses declined by ‐10%. • Overall delinquency declined in 45 of 67 counties. • Pinellas and Polk were the only large jurisdictions with an overall increase in delinquency. • Significant decline in overall arrests in Broward County (1,229 fewer misdemeanor arrests). This decline corresponds to a significant increase in the use of civil citations.22 But how do we know civil citation is working? If civil citation were an ineffective strategy, evidence would have emerged very quickly thorough recidivism data. Fortunately, this was not the case, and civil citation has proven to be an effective strategy to curb delinquency in Florida. In fact, it has been proven to be the most effective strategy for Florida in comparison to other types of interventions. As shown in the chart below, statewide one‐year recidivism rates23 for civil citation are 4%. In comparison, statewide recidivism rates for other placement options are as follows: prevention –11%, diversion—13%, probation—17%, and residential—42%.
Statewide Recidivism Rates by Placement Type, FY 2011‐2012 50
40 30 20
Source: Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, “Briefing Report: Civil Citation Effectiveness Review,” 2014, accessed at: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/research2/briefing‐report‐cc‐(8‐6‐14).pdf?sfvrsn=0
Highlights extracted from 2013‐2014 Delinquency Briefing Report, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, 2015, accessed at: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/research2/briefing_report‐delinquency_in_florida_(fy_2013‐14)‐(updated_2‐4‐15).pdf?sfvrsn=2 23 The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice found across placement types that 14% of recidivists re‐offended within the first 30 days of service completion and that more than half of youth who will re‐offend, will do so within the first 5 months of service completion (by day 150). See: Briefing Report: Recidivism Time to Failure by Placement and Risk Level, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, 2014. Accessed at: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/par‐data/briefing‐report‐recidivism‐time‐to‐failure.pdf?sfvrsn=0
Furhermore, by comparing the outcomes of civil citation programs to those of diversion programs (which are sometimes offered to youth facing first‐time misdemeanors and involve formal judicial interaction and an arrest), it is evident that youth who participate in civil citation experience lower recidivism rates than those who participate for the same offenses in diversion programs (see DJJ Table below, 5 percent for civil citation versus 10 percent for diversion for drug offenses).
Florida Statewide Recidivism for Civil Citation and Diversion Completers During FY 2011‐12 Civil Citation Completers
Offense Category (all Misdemeanors)
3% 5% 5% 5% 6% 7% 3% 5%1
1,594 631 562 56 144 91 131 389
7% 12% 10% 21% 16% 15% 9% 8%1
4,020 2,309 2,025 194 398 395 300 666
Petit Theft*** Assault and or Battery (not aggravated)*** Drug Offenses*** Loitering and Prowling*** Trespassing*** Obstruction of Justice** Vandalism**
Other Weapon‐Firearm Offense
Violation of Hunt, Fish, Boat Laws Total***
Italics indicate there was no significant difference in the recidivism rate of the two groups. (p>.05)
Only includes youth who completed diversion for a Civil Citation eligible arrest.
Domestic Violence category is a subcategory of the Assault and Battery offense category and therefore is already included in the Total above for the completers. 4
The offense category represents the most serious offense the youth completed the civil citation or diversion program for.