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An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Civil Citation as an Alternative to Arrest among Youth Apprehended by Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2019
60 pages
This research project examined variation in the application of civil citations as an alternative to arrest for qualifying juveniles in Florida, determined the impact of the use of such civil citations on the recidivism of juveniles who received them, and developed recommendations for the future use of the citation program in Florida.
Civil citation is widely used in Florida as an alternative response to arrest and formal adjudication for first-time juvenile offenders who commit minor offenses. Most citation programs refer youth to some type of community service or restitution payment. For those who comply with these requirements, there is no arrest record or further consequences. Noncompliance results in arrest and formal adjudication of the original offense. For the current research project, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice provided data relevant to research goals. The 437,449 cases in the base file were aggregated to county-level counts of civil citation and arrested youth. Data analysis procedures are described in this report. The findings indicate that as of July 2016, 60 of Florida's 67 counties had implemented a civil citation program; however, only a small percentage of counties were using juvenile citation at a significant level. Citation programs have apparently had a significant effect on reducing the likelihood of rearrest within a 6-month, 1-year, and 3-year follow-up. At the 6-month follow-up, civil citation reduced the likelihood of recidivism by nearly 50 percent; and at 3 years, juveniles with civil citation were 30 percent less likely to recidivate. This report recommends that a policy initiative be developed that focuses on the fidelity of implementing juvenile civil citation across and within Florida counties. Long-term use of civil citation might also be improved by providing occasional statewide annual training conferences on the program. 13 tables and 71 references

Date Published: December 1, 2019