City Council wants police to use more civil citations

By Scott Johnson - Reporter , Francine Frazier - Senior web editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville City Council unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday to encourage local law enforcement to increase the use of civil citations.

Civil citations are way to cite people who commit crimes without arresting them and giving them a criminal record. They can be issued to anyone, but the primary debate has been about their use for minors.

City leaders, like City Council President Bill Gulliford, said too many kids are going to jail when they're young and then can't get jobs when they're older because of the arrest.

READ: Full resolution passed by City Council

One mother wrote to Gulliford about her son, whose life was changed by an arrest when he was young.

"He went through four years of ROTC in high school," Gulliford said. "Now he's having difficulty getting into the military even though that record's sealed, and a civil citation would've prevented that."

Three weeks ago the council had a lengthy meeting with State Attorney Angela Corey and others, who explained that the city has a lot of programs to keep kids out of jail beyond civil citations.

READ: Corey's letter to City Council against original resolution

"We can't impose our will on Ms. Corey, but I think as a community we need to support a desire or movement in the community," Gulliford said. "I think that again we need to err on... we're talking about potentially ruining a kid's life."

In a statement to Channel 4, Corey said she supports the amended measure the council passed.

"The SAO has used Diversion and other "Smart Justice" programs for four decades," the statement said. "We are proud of the work we have done and continue to do."

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