Jacksonville City Council Meeting on Duval County Juvenile Arrests

There is a debate about the way children and teens should be treated in the Jacksonville juvenile criminal justice system.  The Duval County State Attorney’s Office was criticized for the handling of Cristian Fernandez’ murder case.  While Fernandez’ case has since been resolved, Jacksonville juvenile delinquent issues are still making local headlines.  On April 4, 2014, the Florida Times Union reported:

“A meeting between Jacksonville clergy and State Attorney Angela Corey — designed to discuss the controversial issue of juvenile civil citations — ended abruptly Thursday afternoon outside the State Attorney’s Office on Bay Street…. The clergy wanted to talk about Jacksonville’s low rate of civil citations compared with other parts of the state, but the meeting quickly broke off after Corey expressed unhappiness with the clergy’s decision to alert the media and have parishioners stand outside her office as if they were protesting…. The clergy want more civil citations issued instead of criminal charges…. Corey previously said she is against using them in violent cases such as assaults…. In a letter to Jacksonville City Council last week, Corey said she was opposed to the use of the word ‘civil’ in a citation that is connected to a criminal citation.”

Yesterday, the subject of issuing Jacksonville citations instead of arresting juveniles went before city council, but “city council decided not to vote on the proposed civil citation legislation.  The council committees will start looking at the legislation again in the coming weeks.”  The city of Jacksonville is considering “a bill to give teens tickets instead of arresting them when they break the law. That already happens inside the schools.”  Representatives for the Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office attended the city council meeting.  Duval County Public Defender Matt Shirk attended in an effort to represent the interests of juvenile criminal defendants in Jacksonville.  Duval County superintendent Nikolai Vitti was present. State Attorney Angela Corey was also present and answered questions.  Corey is opposing the proposed bill.  Fox 30 reported:

“But Corey has an issue with when citations are given. She pointed to school fights, saying civil citations shouldn’t be issued for misdemeanor batteries where someone is hurt. ‘In Duval County we are not going to issue civil citations who kids who punch helpless children,’ said Corey. Superintendent Nikolai Vitti fired back, defending giving kids civil citations. ‘I’ve seen good kids arrested for making dumb decision and it ruins them. There’s a way to get this right,’ said Vitti. ‘This has become an issue of politics and sensationalism. Arresting kids in most cases doesn’t work,’ said Vitti.”

City council’s decision is not going to change the way Jacksonville Juvenile Lawyers and Duval County Criminal Attorneys practice.  The decision does not change the law. “While council ultimately didn’t vote on the issue, it wouldn’t matter what the outcome of the vote is. Their decision isn’t legally binding. There is already a state statute.”  Instead, the “legislation is a statement of position by the council.”

Comments are closed.