Members of the Escambia Youth Justice Coalition held a conference call last week to discuss the implementation of the county’s civil citation program. The program was rolled out in April, with the aim of diverting eligible youth away from the criminal justice system.
The EYJC—allied with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northwest Florida and the Southern Poverty Law Center—reports that 33 civil citations have been implemented thus far.
“However, only 24 percent of eligible youth received a citation while the rest of Florida averages a rate of 33 percent,” the ACLU’s Sara Latshaw summed up in an email to coalition members. “This means that if there are 27 youth that qualify for a civil citation, only nine will get one.”
The EYJC plans to create a pamphlet to educate both parents and law enforcement officials on the particulars of the civil citations program. The group also intends to coordinate with local community groups to host informational sessions.
The coalition is also exploring possible dates in September to host a community meeting in order to discuss developments related to school discipline and at-school arrests. The SPLC filed a disciplinary-related complaint against the Escambia school district last year.
Finally, youth coalition members plan to draft letters to “local stakeholders,” including elected officials, in an effort to educate them on juvenile justice best-practices and gain their support for the civil citation program and juvenile justice reform.