Florida legislators are now pushing through a proposal with the aim, you could say, of trying to prevent the states’ kids from growing up to be Florida Men (and Women).
Two bills, one in the state’s House and one in the Senate, stipulate that law enforcement officers will now, instead of arresting a minor for a non-violent offense, be able to issue them a warning or civil citation, as long as they admit they were in the wrong.
The cops can also tell the juvenile's parent or guardian about the infraction in lieu of an arrest, or require participation in a diversion program, usually counseling of some sort.
An early arrest record has been shown to permanently derail an individual’s career and finances later in life, causing to do things that land them in a Jimmy Fallon monologue, or, obviously, much worse.
The proposal is modeled after a similar program in Miami-Dade County, which has seen its total arrests plummet 72 percent since 1999. (The percents show the year-over-year decline).
The House bill says a minor can compile up to four diverted arrests, while the Senate bill, which was approved 37-1 Wednesday, says he or she would get only three.
Either way, the proposals seem to represent a significant breakthrough in law enforcement for the state. Although civil citation programs already exist in many Florida counties, they are used highly unevenly, the Sarasota Herald Tribune’s Ian Cummings writes. In some cases, he says, officers must make an arrest even if they do not think it’s appropriate.
As a result, he notes, “thousands of juveniles caught in minor delinquent acts are booked into detention centers and saddled with public arrest records that will haunt them for decades.”
That era may now be coming to a close. Sorry joke writers.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.