Criminal justice reform advocates are lobbying for proposed legislation that would make juvenile civil citations mandatory in Florida. Senate Bill 196, filed by Senator Anitere Flores, would require law enforcement officers to issue civil citations instead of arresting juveniles for twelve misdemeanor offenses. Current law gives officers the discretion to give a civil citation or an arrest.
"Those who go through the diversion program, their recidivism rate is almost nonexistent and unfortunately we can't say the same for kids who go into the criminal justice system." said Sen. Flores. She says the bill would prevent a criminal record from hindering future opportunities. "The fact is, that criminal record, it follows you and has an adverse effect in every single step of your developmental life. It's something you have to disclose when you have college applications, when you go apply for a job."
Sen. Flores and several proponents including Representatives Larry Ahern and Ross Spano are holding a press conference in Tallahassee today, ahead of the bill's first Senate hearing set for Monday. Rep. Ahern filed a companion bill HB 205.