Adult civil citation program could give some small time offenders a big break in Duval County

Jacksonville, FL. — An adult civil citation program that could spare some people jail time and a criminal record might be developed in Duval County.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and State Attorney’s Office agreed to work on the initiative.

If a person committed a non-violent misdemeanor offense, they could be given a ticket rather than being arrested.

JSO told Action News Jax it’s too early to comment how the program may work in the future and what misdemeanors would or wouldn’t qualify.

Tuesday, local faith leaders, including Pastor Tan Moss, held an event to celebrate the progress. “I think it’s a tremendous big step,” Pastor Moss said.

Pastor Moss said the goal of the program is to prevent people from ending up in jail for non-violent misdemeanor crimes.

“We’re reducing the amount of people who are being arrested for minor crimes which enables these people to continue to work and be productive citizens in society, but yet we still hold them accountable,” Pastor Moss said.

He said arrests for non-violent offenses, like driving with a suspended license, can leave a lasting blemish on a person’s record. “It burdens someone with a criminal record,” Pastor Moss said. “It causes them to have issues with their job, with their families.”

Molly Brady said she backs the initiative because it has personally impacted her family. She said it also may build more trust in the community.

“I think it will improve relations between law enforcement and the community,” Brady said.

A similar program already exists for children in Duval County.

In a meeting with faith leaders last week, State Attorney Melissa Nelson said she supports the program for adults, but said it could be more difficult to develop.

“I think that standing it up will just be more challenging in that the infrastructure that we’ve talked about that existed for juvenile civil citations doesn’t presently exist.

It’s not a challenge we can’t overcome,” Nelson said.

Pastor Moss said this commitment to finding alternatives to arrests for non-violent misdemeanor offenses is a big step in the right direction.