Faith community asking officials to offer more citations to youths

By Tim Pulliam, General assignment reporter, tpulliam@wjxt.com
Nicholas Jones, Producer, njones@wjxt.com
Published On: Apr 01 2014 10:28:03 PM EDT
Updated On: Apr 01 2014 11:47:01 PM EDT

Christian Fernandez, George Zimmerman, Michael Dunn all cases in which critics have accused State attorney Angela Corey of over-charging. Now, local pastors are leveling the same complaint at the prosecutor, saying first time, non-violent juvenile law-breakers here are being systematically over-charged.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The faith-based community in Jacksonville is asking law enforcement officers to offer more civil citations to youths when it comes to charging them with non-violent offenses.

The Jacksonville clergy believes if young people receive more citations versus jail time for non-violent offenses, they are less likely to re-offend.

The clergy would also like the State Attorney's Office to explain why it seems to be leaning toward jail time instead of citations.

Pastor Kent Dorsey with the Jacksonville clergy believes civil citations versus an arrest will save money and give young people a second chance.

Dorsey said he would like to see law enforcement officers give young people more grace and mercy when it comes to charging them with non-violent offenses.

According to the group, last year only 31 percent of young people in Jacksonville received a civil citation versus jail time.

"In a sense we're wasting that young person who has admittedly made poor decisions, but not wrong enough to maybe have the rest of your life taken from you," said Dorsey.

Dorsey said next week thousands from Jacksonville's faith-based community will gather for their Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation and Empowerment assembly, or ICARE, to address their concerns.

"We are working to have 4,000 people of faith out of our 38 congregations to challenge our elected officials to do things that are more just and fair, and just better for the city of Jacksonville," said Dorsey.

State Attorney Angela Corey's Office said it will attend the meeting.

In a statement, the office said, "Ms. Corey has stated her support for law enforcement issuing a civil citation in appropriate circumstances. Ms. Corey has also made it clear that she does not support the citations being issued for misdemeanors like battery, where there is a victim. Crimes involving victims should always be reviewed by prosecutors before being automatically diverted with a civil citation."

The discussion between the ICARE and Law Enforcement will take place at 7 p.m. Monday at the Potter's House.

The Jacksonville clergy will assemble this Thursday at the Duval County Courthouse to address the same concerns.

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