Our mission is to influence legislation and policies that promote a compassionate and effective juvenile justice process in Collier County. We do this through education, advocacy and monitoring activities. We believe that the Juvenile Justice system should:
- Promote the prevention of juvenile delinquency
- Rehabilitate, rather than punish
- Provide alternatives to incarceration for low-level crimes
- Treat youth as youth, who do not have a fully matured brain
We advocate for:
- Increased the use of civil citation for first time, low level offense
- a reduction in the number of direct file cases that try juveniles as adults
We work toward this vision through education of the membership and public, advocacy to government and monitoring of programs and institutions. We make ourselves heard!
Mr. Dewey Caruthers was the featured LWVCC Hot Topics speaker on February 3, 2020. He is recognized as a national and state researcher on iissues of juvenile justice, the health of children, and education. He spoke about research done in Florida regarding the use of civil citations (not arresting, but having expectations of community service and involvement with programs to meet the needs of the teen). Use of civil citation has very positive results including a much lower rate of recommitting the crime and a lower cost to the community where it is used. The latest data can be seen at the-caruthers-institute.foleon
Driving Ballot Initiatives
An important tactic for advocacy is to gather public support for a referendum. The LWVCC Justice Committee worked with partners across the state collecting the signatures that helped get Amendment 4 of the November 2018 ballot. Supporters of the “Say Yes to Second Chances” campaign, Floridians for a Fair Democracy and the LWVCC Justice Committee were committed to restoration of voting rights to former felons.
Meeting with Government
Members of the Collier and the Lee Counties Justice Committees met with State Attorney Amira Fox of the 20th Judicial
Circuit in November 2019 to determine her view of potential legislative issues on direct file (when a child is tried as an adult). She did not support raising the age of when direct file could be used or giving judges any say in determining which court is used for a child.
We were pleased to learn that she is very supportive of civil citation (when a youth receives a diversion program instead of arrest for low level offenses). We were honored to have her speak at our February 2020 monthly meeting. She spoke with ease and no notes about her role as our State Attorney and about the 20th Judicial Circuit.
Pace Center for Girls, Immokalee
Youth Haven Shelter, Naples
Children and youth who have been neglected or abused often end up in the criminal justice system. Youth Haven offers shelter to these homeless teens.
Members of the Justice Committee visited Youth Haven on January 14, 2020 to learn about its program for homeless teens. The shelter executive director, Jinx Ligget, and staff members Cynthia Rodriguez and Ana Mejia, outreach through the school system with focus on encouraging teens that needed support to move into the shelter.
Once there, the teen program works from day one on having the teen develop goals so they will be independent upon release at 18 years. Director Ligget talked about limitations in accepting youth, due to their behavioral health issues and needing all at the shelter to be safe. There is a 12 bed limit for the teens. LWV members watched a video showing a successful story of a teen who came to the shelter to separate from an abusive mother. This teen graduated from college and returns to visit the kids at Youth Haven.
Youth Haven’s main source of financial support is through donations. There is opportunities for people to volunteer there. Some ways are through helping with birthday celebrations, holiday celebrations, and beautification of the campus.