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Civil citation bill squeaks through committee

Florida juveniles to be issued citations upon a first arrest

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Legislation requiring every county to issue civil citations upon a juvenile's first arrest for a nonviolent misdemeanor squeaked through a House committee Wednesday over the opposition of law enforcement.

First approved in 2010, the citations are optional for police, but seven counties have issued none. The Rev Bernice Powell Jackson told lawmakers that the current system leads to unfair treatment.

"In Hillsborough County, for instance, we had a young man who was arrested for an offense that if he had lived in Pinellas County right across the bay, he would not have. He would have received a civil citation. So that's not fair, that's not equity in our justice system," Jackson said.

Prosecutors, sheriffs and police chiefs objected to the mandatory nature of the bill. They were promised more flexibility before the legislation comes up before a second committee.