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September 20th, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Andrew Warren Calls for Expansion of Civil Citations in Hillsborough County

Tampa, FL – On Tuesday, Andrew Warren released the first in a new series of proposals, calling for increased use of civil citations for juveniles, which are currently under-utilized in Hillsborough County compared with other counties in Florida. 

“Over the past decade, cities across the country have implemented intelligent reforms aimed at decreasing violent crime, reducing recidivism, and restoring fairness to their systems,” Warren said. “We need to utilize what other prosecutors’ offices have done and replicate that success in Hillsborough.

As a federal prosecutor with the United States Department of Justice, Warren investigated and prosecuted cases all over the country, and he intends to draw on that broad experience to enact policies that have proven effective in other cities.  “Our system in Hillsborough is outdated; we’re like the rotary phone of criminal justice,” Warren said.  “And we’re in need of an upgrade.  We need to modernize and improve our system by embracing innovative reforms that have become commonplace in other major cities, starting with civil citations for first-time misdemeanor offenders.”

“As State Attorney, I would work with law enforcement to increase the use of civil citations to ensure that we’re arresting first-time offending juveniles for misdemeanors only in the rare and exceptional circumstances where it’s warranted,” Warren said. “I would also partner with third-party agencies and the School Board to encourage allowing schools and parents to handle low-level offenses that occur on school grounds, rather than involving the justice system.”

A 2016 report by The Children’s Campaign, a Florida advocacy group, recently criticized Hillsborough County as an outlier across the state for its use of civil citations, finding that Hillsborough used civil citations in only 32% of eligible juvenile cases, versus 82% in Pinellas.[1] The report found that Hillsborough was among the worst counties in the state for arresting juveniles rather than using citations.  The report concluded that under-utilization of civil citations such as in Hillsborough has led to higher costs for taxpayers, ineffective use of resources, and bad outcomes for juveniles.

“These are sensible policies that will reduce recidivism, save taxpayer dollars, and lessen the strain on our overworked criminal justice system, thereby freeing up resources to be used to target more serious crimes that threaten our neighborhoods,” Warren said. “As importantly, increasing the use of civil citations will avoid saddling kids with arrest and conviction records that make it harder for them to get jobs and become law-abiding members of our community.”

Citation programs hold eligible offenders accountable through community service, restitution, and intervention services.  They have been found to reduce recidivism and increase public safety, and they are an efficient use of taxpayer resources.  The average cost of civil citations per juveniles is less than $400, compared with an average of $5,000 to process a juvenile through the system[2] plus more than $55,000 annually it costs to incarcerate each juvenile.[3]

The Children’s Campaign report is one of several recent reports criticizing Hillsborough County for lagging behind other jurisdictions in Florida and nationally in terms of its criminal justice system.  "Too many objective studies and reports by third-party agencies show that we are behind the curve in too many areas," Warren said. "Hillsborough can’t continue to operate in a bubble and pat ourselves on the back even though independent agencies have given us failing grades.  It’s time to accept reality and make the necessary changes to improve our system."

[1] Tampa Bay Times, September 14th, 2016

[2] American Bar Association Report, Page 4

[3] Justice Policy Institute, Page 11

 

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