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Juvenile pre-arrest diversion programs offer a second chance to offenders

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With the national debate on criminal and juvenile justice shifting away from costly and ineffective tough-on-crime rhetoric, Florida TaxWatch - the state's premier nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog - has proposed numerous solutions in this area to safely and efficiently protect taxpayers.

The latest Florida TaxWatch report analyzes our state’s juvenile pre-arrest diversion (JPAD) programs and finds these programs are crucial to keeping juveniles from deeper involvement in the juvenile and criminal justice systems, leading to a decrease in recidivism and improved odds of success in their adult lives. These programs also save significant taxpayer dollars that can be better invested elsewhere.

“People, especially young people, sometimes make mistakes. However, we should not subject young offenders to unsuccessful policies that doom them to a bleak cycle of crime,” said Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “JPAD programs are an effective and efficient way to ensure that juvenile offenders are held accountable for their actions without subjecting them, and taxpayers, to the monetary and societal costs of an arrest.”

While the report applauds the benefits of JPAD programs, it points out inconsistencies in eligibility and application around the state, creating a system where a juvenile offender in one county may receive an alternative referral for services while another in a neighboring county may be arrested for the same offense. The report recommends that the Florida Legislature work with existing JPAD programs to create a graduated system of JPAD sanctions with consistent eligibility standards across the state.

» The full report can be read here.

About Florida TaxWatch

As an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute & government watchdog for more than one third of a century, Florida TaxWatch works to improve the productivity and accountability of Florida government. Its research recommends productivity enhancements and explains the statewide impact of fiscal and economic policies and practices on citizens and businesses.

Florida TaxWatch is supported by voluntary, tax-deductible donations and private grants, and does not accept government funding. Donations provide a solid, lasting foundation that has enabled Florida TaxWatch to bring about a more effective, responsive government that is more accountable to, and productive for, the citizens it serves since 1979. For more information, please visit http://www.floridataxwatch.org.