ICARE plans to take pitch for adult citation program to candidates for sheriff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville community group that had planned to meet Monday with Sheriff Mike Williams might be moving on, taking its pitch for an adult citation program to the candidates who want to be the city’s next sheriff.

While members of the ICARE program acknowledge that Sheriff Mike Williams and State Attorney Melissa Nelson both helped facilitate a youth citation program, they’re inviting new eyes to examine their goal.

The citywide group of faith leaders was scheduled to meet with Williams, but it appeared a seat they’d labeled for the sheriff was left empty.

“At one time, youth were arrested for things like getting in a fight at school. Because of ICARE, JSO issues civil citations to 99% of eligible youth in our community,” said the Rev. Brian Lays, with Riverside Presbyterian Church.

Lays says civil citations holds young people accountable without branding them with a criminal record, saying that affects about 500 young people in our area each year.

ICARE applauded the sheriff and state attorney with helping facilitate the youth citation program. But now they’re lobbying JSO to create an adult citation program, and they said Williams has not followed through with his promises.

“He expressed that he had no plans to follow through on his commitments to develop an adult civil citations or examine the CIT program,” said one speaker.

So now, ICARE is turning to the candidates for the 2023 sheriff’s race, inviting them to listen in to their meeting and hear their presentation on the need for an adult citation program and for a stronger group violence intervention program.

“Let’s be clear,” a speaker said. “We’re not suggesting that it’s okay to break even minor laws, nor are we suggesting that there should be no penalty for breaking these laws.”

ICARE’S message: The penalty should match the crime and the circumstance, and suggesting thousands are being arrested over fines not paid or paperwork is not in order -- like an over expired drivers license or tag.

ICARE worries those who struggle to pay those fines and then are arrested suffer long-term, even if they’re not convicted or it’s expunged -- saying it can still show up on a background check. The record can keep individuals from getting a job or getting a higher education.

About the Author:

At WJXT for a quarter of a century, Mary Baer anchors the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news weekdays.