Key Findings 2018-19

Key finding 1: Statewide prearrest diversion utilization rate for children caught committing first-time common youth misbehavior plateaued in 2018-19.

Florida’s utilization rate for juvenile civil citations in lieu of arrests for children caught committing first-time common youth misbehavior was 62% in fiscal year 2018-19, which represents flat growth from the previous fiscal year that had a rate of 61% - a plateau from past annual utilization increases that included 8% in 2017-18, 5% in 2016-17, and 5% in 2015-16.

Key Finding 2: Pinellas and Miami-Dade counties led the state in use of first-time pre-arrest diversions.

Pinellas and Miami-Dade were the state’s top-performers in 2018-19 with first-time prearrest diversion utilization rates of 97% and 91%, respectively – for the second consecutive year the only counties with rates in the 90% range.

Six counties -- Pasco, Washington, Monroe, Clay, Duval and Putnam -- had rates in the 80% range.

Key finding 3: Pinellas County School District led the state in using first-time pre-arrest diversions.

Pinellas County School District had a prearrest diversion rate of 100% for children caught committing first-time common youth misbehavior, issuing civil citations to all 349 students who were eligible. It is rare that a larger school district is able to achieve a 100% utilization rate.

Other top-performing school districts in the 90% utilization range were Putnam, Hernando, Pasco, Clay, Collier, Palm Beach, Hendry, Nassau, St. John’s and Broward.

Pinellas County is a model for any county or district in the state that wants to use prearrest diversion to increase public safety, improve youth outcomes and save taxpayer money.

Key finding 4: Orange and Hillsborough counties continue years-long struggles with high arrest rates for first-time common youth misbehavior.

This study first reported in 2016 that Orange, Hillsborough and Duval Counties comprised approximately one-quarter of all first-time common youth misbehavior arrests statewide (using 2014-15 data.) At the time, Orange County’s arrest rate for children committing first-time minor offenses was 83%, and Hillsborough and Duval each had an arrest rate of 68%.

While Duval improved substantially over the following two years and sustained its gains into 2018-19 with only an 18% arrest rate, Orange and Hillsborough have continued to struggle.

For example, Orange County in 2018-19 had an arrest rate of 55%, which was led by its sheriff’s office that ranked second among law enforcement agencies in Florida.

Additionally, in 2018-19 Hillsborough County had an arrest rate of 44%, which was led by the sheriff’s office that ranked first among law enforcement agencies in Florida and Tampa Police Department that ranked 10th.

Orange and Hillsborough Counties arrested nearly 1,000 children last year for first-time common youth misbehavior.

Key finding 5: There were 10 law enforcement agencies (only three in metro areas) responsible for one-third of all first-time arrests for common youth misbehavior statewide in 2018-19.

Top 10 law enforcement agencies with highest arrests:

  1. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office 340
  2. Orange County Sheriff’s Office 297
  3. Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office 270
  4. Escambia County Sheriff’s Office 173
  5. Lee County Sheriff’s Office 157
  6. Osceola County Sheriff’s Office 152
  7. Polk County Sheriff’s Office 145
  8. Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office 121
  9. Collier County Sheriff’s Office 108
  10. Tampa Police Department 107

In comparison, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office arrested eight juveniles.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office arrested 340 children compared to Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, across the bridge, that arrested only 8.

Key Finding 6: More than 600 young children ages 12 and under were arrested for first-time common youth misbehavior in Florida last year.

There were more than 600 children ages 12 and younger arrested for first-time common youth misbehavior -- misdemeanors that in previous years most likely were not treated as illegal. In other words, the arrests were for minor offenses, not felonies or serious acts.

Law enforcement agencies with notable numbers of arrests of young children:

  • Escambia Sheriff’s Office arrested 17 children ages 11 and under and 14 12-year-olds.
  • Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested 15 ages 11 and under and five 12-year-olds.
  • Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office arrested 13 children ages 11 and under and 16 12-year-olds.
  • St. Lucie Sheriff’s Office arrested 14 ages 11 and under and 10 12-year-olds.
  • Marion County Sheriff’s Office arrested 13 ages 11 and under and 13 12-year-olds.
  • Osceola Sheriff’s Office arrested eight 11 and under and three 12-year-olds.
  • Leesburg Police Department arrested 11 ages 11 and under and one 12-year-old.
  • Tampa Police Department arrested three children ages 11 and under and seven 12-year-olds.
  • Tallahassee Police Department arrested five 11 and under and five 12-year-olds.
  • Orange County Sheriff’s Office arrested three 11 and under and 19 12-year-olds.
Why are some law enforcement agencies unable to address 11-year-old behavior without an arrest?

Data from Florida Department of Juvenile Justice dashboard:

Recommendations 2018-19