A reply from our County Commissioner to my e-mail concerning the approval that the county has given for funds to be used to clear the criminal records of juveniles:
Dear Mr. Stahl:
Thank you for e-mailing me to express your concerns about the item on Tuesday’s County Commission Agenda related to expunging the criminal records of young people as part of the civil citation program.
I am well aware of the high burglary rate in Middle River Terrace, and of course, I would not support any action by the commission that would interfere with efforts to address this problem by law enforcement or the court system.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the County Commission accepted a state grant from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice for the purpose of expunging the records of young people who were eligible for the county’s Civil Citation Program, but who were not given the opportunity to participate by the law enforcement agency where their offense took place.
It is important to note that the Civil Citation Program is only available to young people who have committed a misdemeanor, who have no prior criminal record, and who stay out of trouble after their first offense. Because burglary is a felony, the juvenile offenders believed to be responsible for the burglaries in Middle River Terrace could not participate in the Civil Citation Program. The purpose of this program is to intervene with children the first time they get into trouble for minor crimes, and give them the help they need to turn their lives around. These types of programs can save millions of dollars for the county and keep kids from becoming career criminals.
As for records expungement, please understand that burglary of a dwelling is among the crimes that, under Florida law, can never be expunged. So again, the children who would be helped by the state funds the County Commission accepted CANNOT include those who have committed burglaries in your neighborhood. Moreover, in order to qualify for an expungement, a young person must stay out of trouble after the offense they wish to have expunged – they cannot have a subsequent arrest. Under Florida law, a person may only have one criminal offense expunged in their entire life. This law is truly designed to give a second chance to people who make a mistake but want to put their lives back on track.
Considering all these factors, I am confident that the expungement of records for young people who have the very minor types of offenses covered by the civil citation program will actually help Broward County and young people who recognize their mistakes and want to change and become productive members of society. Considering the limitations on these programs, I do not believe it will hinder efforts to fight crime in our community.
Thank you again for taking the time to share your views about this issue with me, and for the opportunity to serve as your representative on the Broward County Commission.
Tim Ryan, Vice Mayor
Broward County Commission – District 7
115 S. Andrews Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301