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Angela Corey and Teen Civil Citations

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Opinion

State Attorney Angela Corey continues to be an example of why there should be term limits for elected officials in every strata of government. Those limits are particularly important when it comes to those officials whose offices literally can determine if it’s a life or death, poverty or promise for the citizens they serve.

State Attorney Corey has determined that in spite of all evidence to the contrary, her office and the prosecutors who serve at her command will not participate in supporting the issuance of Civil Citations- particularly for juveniles, unless her office, and her office only, makes the decision. On its face this sounds a bit like every other decision concerning crime and punishment that flows through the State Attorney’s office.

The problem here is that it is generally agreed in American society, and around the globe that children, juveniles under the age of 17, will not be treated as adults unless the crimes they commit are so heinous that they pose a threat to themselves and society. Psychologists generally agree that brain function and immaturity play a major part in the actions and reactions that juveniles have to their environment- how they process information. In effect, our society says we will give them a chance to mature, grow, make mistakes, learn from them and go on to make for themselves a better life.

And then there is the financial concern: we simply have too many people in jail and prison for crimes that didn’t require the prosecutor to ruin their lives to up their stats and over extend the system when in most cases there were alternatives.

Teen Court Director Lawrence Hills is quoted in a recent Folio Weekly article as saying that 91 percent of teens who are issued Civil Citations and accept the process that goes with it, are not re-arrested the following year. 91 percent sounds like a good average to me.

None of us has to be reminded of the crippling affects that an arrest record, let alone a conviction record can have on a life, let alone any career. The Folio article cites statistics that are public record: 86 percent in Miami-Dade, 82 percent in Pinellas County/St.Petersburg, the statewide average for Florida is 40 percent. These are the numbers of Civil Citations issued for Juvenile offenders. But in Jacksonville, the heart of the 4th Judicial Circuit where Corey reigns: 32 percent.

Chief Judge Donald Moran, Sheriff John Rutherford, the Southern Poverty Law Center Florida, Public Defender Matt Shirk, Ministerial groups are on the same page. Angela Corey is not.

Couple this with her refusal to be interviewed directly by public media unless they are “Friends of Angela,” and her inability to win high profile cases where Black Male teens are the victims instead of the perpetrators, and we have a frame- the State Attorney’s Office- that needs a new picture.

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