DeFuniak Springs, FL (PRWEB) November 14, 2013
In an attempt to better rehabilitate juvenile offenders, Walton County recently adopted a civil citation program for juvenile offenders in their county. As an alternative to criminal prosecutions, civil citations are a way to rehabilitate first time juvenile offenders who have committed nonviolent misdemeanor offenses, according to The News Herald, published on November 3, 2013. This process usually involves community service, counseling, and restitution.
According to The News Herald, if a juvenile successfully completes the program, they will have the offense cleared from their record. This will prevent them from having employment or educational limitations in the future. However, if the youth fails to complete the program, he or she will be arrested.
In the past, when a juvenile offender was arrested for a crime, a juvenile probation officer would decide whether or not to recommend if the juvenile should be detained or entered into a diversion program.
If the defendant was detained, he or she would be tried in either juvenile or adult court, where a judge would make a final ruling. Under the civil citation program, a bigger emphasis will be placed on diverting juveniles away from institutionalization.
According to South Walton Juvenile Defense Lawyer Clay Adkinson, the purpose of this program is to identify children who are veering off the correct path. The program seeks to address the causes of the deviant behavior, and it gives the youth a legitimate chance to get their life back on track.
Some people feel as though this is the incorrect way to handle juvenile offenders, citing that severe punishment is the only way to get the child’s attention. However, not only does this program keep the youths from being institutionalized, but it benefits tax payers as well.
According to The News Herald, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice said it costs over $40,000 a year to house each juvenile in a correctional facility, while diversion programs only cost about $2,000 a year per juvenile offender.
By spending less money on non-violent offenders, more time and money can be spent on rehabilitating more serious juvenile offenders who need it the most.
The civil citations program is not a new or unproven one. According to The News Herald, from 1998 to 2008 Miami-Dade County’s Juvenile Services Department saved over $20 million, and lowered the re-arrest rate by 80 percent.
According to The News Herald, most of the counties in Florida are accepting the idea of instituting a civil citations program for juvenile offenders in their county, recognizing that it is a valid option for rehabilitating the youth, and preventing them from becoming repeat offenders.
Clay Adkinson is a DeFuniak Springs criminal defense lawyer who represents juveniles accused of crimes, including drug offenses, sex crimes and more.