Too many children are being arrested for first time misdemeanors in Hillsborough County and Florida. In the past 12 months, Florida arrested about 12,000 children for first time misdemeanors. Hillsborough County arrested about 1,000 of these children, with 70% of them being arrested for first time misdemeanor marijuana possession. Though these children are eligible to receive a state authorized Civil Citation/Arrest Avoidance Program instead of an arrest, eight decision makers in Hillsborough had excluded them from accessing Civil Citation Programs.
A Civil Citation gives children disciplinary programs that help them develop as productive adults through community service, counseling and anger management or drug treatment programs as needed, without an arrest that puts them into the Criminal Justice System. Increasing the use of Civil Citations in Hillsborough will decrease the number of children being arrested and prevent them from having the challenge of a damaging arrest record for the rest of their lives.
HOPE continues to organize to reduce the arrests of our children by getting decision makers to expand the use of the Civil Citation/Arrest Avoidance Program in our county and the state of Florida.