A Message from Sheriff Scott Israel
ENSURING A PROMISING FUTURE FOR BROWARD’S CHILDREN
As a father, I am incredibly proud to see my children grow into upstanding young adults. Fortunately, they have been blessed with the smarts, athleticism, social graces and opportunities that led them down a path to success.
As Sheriff, I play a special role in protecting, encouraging and helping not only my children, but all Broward children.
These fine young men and women are the next generation of teachers, lawyers, doctors, law enforcement officers and leaders. And they deserve every opportunity to succeed.
One of my greatest passions in life is working with children. As a high school and youth league football coach for many years, I witnessed the boys and girls I coached mature and grow. I also saw them make a fair share of mistakes. That’s part of growing up, too. The lessons we learn from our mistakes when we are young help build the strong moral character of our adulthood, but for many, youthful indiscretions have created far-reaching consequences that can destroy future opportunities.
Since becoming Sheriff in 2013, it has been a cornerstone of my administration to ensure the positive development of many of our county’s youth. I made a commitment to the public that BSO will work tirelessly to keep kids out of jail. Through the Civil Citation program – which allows eligible juveniles to be placed into a diversion program instead of facing criminal arrest – we have produced remarkable results in breaking the “school house to jail house” pipeline.
Instead of a permanent arrest record, which could severely limit opportunities later in life, a youth who commits an eligible misdemeanor gets a second chance to lead a productive life through the non-criminal, civil citation process. The program has been a massive success with only 5% of youth returning to crime. It also has the added bonus of saving millions of dollars that would otherwise be spent on juvenile criminal justice system operations.
To further the effort of keeping children in schools and out of jail, BSO joined with the School Board and State Attorney as charter partners in the innovative PROMISE (Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Support and Education) Program agreement. PROMISE offers alternatives to arrests and suspensions through school counseling sessions and interventions. Routine, minor misconduct matters (fist fight, caught using marijuana, etc.) that were handled years ago as in-school disciplinary matters are once again being successfully handled that way again – without needlessly turning minor in-school teen misconduct into formal police criminal incidents.
Since instituting PROMISE, school-related arrests have plummeted. In most instances, a student may receive up to four chances to complete the program and learn from a wrongdoing before the school turns the matter over to law enforcement. These students won’t have a criminal record and will have another chance to go on to lead productive lives.
I’m often asked how many chances I am going to give these kids. My answer: however many it takes until they get it right. Putting vulnerable adolescents in jail only teaches them to become career criminals. These programs, by contrast, help keep their records clean, teach them responsibility and give them a second chance for a better life.
I am proud that BSO has made a difference for our youth with innovative programs and partnerships. Our success should always be measured by how many children we keep out of jail, not how many we lock up.
Sheriff Scott Israel
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