Juvenile Pre-Arrest Diversion
Historically, Florida has taken a tough- on-crime stance that bolstered its criminal justice system in some ways, but hindered it in others. Criminal justice policies like mandatory minimums, for example, made sentencing more consistent, but also limited judges’ ability to consider external factors, making sentencing harsher on low-level offenders as well as on Florida taxpayers. These and other tough-on-crime policies also led to overcriminalization, which had an impact not only on the number of adults coming into contact with police, but also on the number
of children and adolescents coming into the juvenile justice system.
Fortunately, there has been a recent shift in juvenile justice policy toward approaches that provide sanctions to address the behavior of delinquent youth, while minimizing their involvement with the juvenile justice system. A central goal of this new shift in ideology is to ensure that juvenile residential beds are reserved for children and adolescents in need of stricter and more comprehensive supervision, while less expensive diversion alternatives that maintain public safety and reduce crime are used for low-risk juvenile offenders.