Recommendations 2019-20

Recommendation # 1: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees can help by encouraging law enforcement in seven counties to utilize prearrest diversion juvenile civil citations as the norm, and only make arrests in rare and exceptional circumstances – at least until the pandemic is over.

Nationally, public health experts are referring to jail areas as "hot spots" and "petri dishes" for COVID-19, while in Florida the virus is the leading killer of law officers. From April through October, there were more than 2,000 arrests for first-time common youth misbehavior in Florida. Arrests place children and law enforcement at much higher risk to contract and spread the deadly virus to their families, friends and throughout their communities. There are seven counties with high arrests rates during the pandemic: Hillsborough, Orange, Broward, Brevard, Lee, Collier and Escambia. The Governor and State Surgeon General can help by encouraging law enforcement in these counties to utilize juvenile civil citations as the norm, and only make arrests in rare and exceptional circumstances – at least until the pandemic has passed. It’s important to keep in mind most other counties have high utilization rates for juvenile civil citations during the pandemic. And that Pinellas and Miami-Dade counties serve as models for the state on how to handle common youth misbehavior, regardless of a pandemic.

Recommendation # 2: County health departments in seven counties can inform law enforcement decision-making by comparing the public health risks associated with arresting children for first-time common youth misbehavior vs. juvenile civil citations.

County health departments are the local experts for COVID-19 containment. The health departments can help law enforcement decision-making by comparing the public health risks of arresting children for first-time common youth misbehavior vs. issuing juvenile civil citations. The results of the risk assessments should be shared with local elected officials, the media and the public. There are seven counties with high arrests rates during the pandemic that warrant such assessments: Hillsborough, Orange, Broward, Brevard, Lee, Collier and Escambia.

Recommendation # 3: Florida counties and cities should follow the data supporting juvenile prearrest diversion civil citations, just like they are insisting citizens follow the science with COVID-19.

The data is clear regarding the benefits of juvenile civil citations and the harms of arresting children for first-time minor offenses. “5 years of research”

Florida counties and cities should follow the data supporting juvenile prearrest diversion civil citations, just like they are insisting citizens follow the science with COVID-19.

5 Years of Research Findings