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"This expansion further enhances opportunities for juvenile first-time offenders in Hillsborough County to have meaningful sanctions without creating a criminal record that could destroy their future," said Sheriff Chronister.
On Monday, April 8
, Sheriff Chad Chronister, along with members of the law enforcement and judicial community in Hillsborough County, announced an expansion to the Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program (JAAP), a civil citation program for first-time juvenile offenders under the age of 18. JAAP gives law enforcement authorization to issue youth a civil citation in lieu of arrest for certain misdemeanor offenses.
Effective March 28
, 2019, an addendum was added to the program leaving just five offenses out of more than 200 misdemeanor charges a juvenile can face in the county ineligible for JAAP. The only ineligible offenses included Battery (Domestic Violence on a partner), Assault on a Specified Official (school employee, detention officer, law enforcement officer), Violation of Injunction, Driving under Influence and Racing.
JAAP has expanded to included low-level family violence offenses, including incidents involving a sibling or a parent. Instead of time in a juvenile detention center, youth who are first-time offenders will get assessed by a case worker and receive a variety of alternative sanctions including counseling, drug treatment, specialized classes or community service. The change was made possible in part by Commissioner Sandy Murman, who has made bed space and counselors available at the County's group home facility in Lake Magdalene.
"This expansion further enhances opportunities for juvenile first-time offenders in Hillsborough County to have meaningful sanctions without creating a criminal record that could destroy their future," said Sheriff Chronister. "We want young people to know that even after making a poor decision, they can turn their lives around and get back on the right track."
If youth successful complete the terms and conditions of their sanctions, their cases are closed without referral to the State Attorney's Office.
Standing alongside Sheriff Chronister and members of the Tampa Police Department, Temple Terrace Police Department, University of South Florida Police Department and Tampa International Airport Police Department, State Attorney Andrew Warren spoke during Monday
's press conference at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office in Ybor City saying, "We must invest in our kids rather than arrest our kids. Today
's investment in public safety will benefit our community for generations to come, and I am grateful to have the privilege to stand here with our stakeholders in this collaborative effort as we build a safer, stronger Hillsborough."
Since JAAP was greatly expanded for the first time in August of 2017, the number of youth receiving civil citation referrals instead of getting a criminal record has continued to increase each year, from 664 in 2017 to 704 in 2018.
In addition to members of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and State Attorney Andrew Warren, community leaders in attendance at Monday
's press conference included Clerk of Courts Pat Frank, Chief Judge Ronald Ficarrotta, Court Administrator Gina Justice, Tampa Police Assistant Chief Eli Vazquez, Temple Terrace Police Chief Ken Albano, Tampa International Airport Police Chief Charlie Vazquez and University of South Florida Police Chief Chris Daniel, all of whom signed and supported the addendum added in March.
HCSO Expands Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program (JAAP)