The Gadsden County Community Justice Program is a citizen-led effort that focuses on overcoming crime and its impact on our county. The programs evolved from a task force of citizens that worked with Florida A & M University's Disproportionate Minority Consortium Initiative, which was funded by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice's DMC initiative. Community members, criminal and juvenile justice agencies, human services providers, and local government officials developed a strategic plan to address the disproportionate number of minority youth referred to the juvenile justice system
The Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office has the function of working at the grass roots level, directly with the affected groups at the school level. Lieutenant t Edward McWhite directs all School Resource Officers.
The primary tool of this program is the School Resource Officers. They are assigned to most elementary schools in the county and to all middle and high schools. These deputies work closely with the principal at each school to develop plans and strategies to prevent and/or minimize dangerous situations. Also, deputies participate in school programs, parent/teacher conferences, drug and crime prevention activities and conduct small group sessions with students based on materials presented in classes in an effort to foster a positive relationship between students and law enforcement officers.
If you have questions regarding the community justice program please contact, Lieutenant Edward McWhite
at (850) 627- 9233.
The Teen Court Program offers youthful offenders an alternative to prosecution through the juvenile justice system. Teen Court does not decide innocence or guilt but instead is a sentencing hearing conducted by trained teen attorneys from the local middle and high schools that volunteer randomly each Tuesday night to serve jury duty. Everyone involved in the courtroom proceeding is a teenager except for the judge, who is a bar-certified attorney or an actual judge who volunteers to oversee the proceedings. (There are adults who observe and supervise).
Hearing is a judicial process consisting of the following:
- Opening statement and closing argument
- Direct, cross, and re-direct examination of the defendant
- Jury instructions by the judge
- Sentencing by the jury
Hearing addresses the following:
- Criminal offense
- Reasons for defendant’s behavior leading to the offense
- Home/school performance and behavior
- Decisions defendant has made or is making in all aspects of his/her life
Mandatory sentencing ranges include:
- Between 10 and 55 hours of community service for misdemeanor offenses; 55-75 hours for felony offenses (multiple offenses carry multiple sanctions)
- Between 1 and 6 nights or jury duty for misdemeanor offenses; 5 and 8 jury duties for felony offenses (multiple offenses carry multiple sanctions)
- Rap sessions (group education/counseling) for each night of jury duty sanctioned.
- Mitigating and aggravating factors are considered when applying range of sanctions
Sentence can also include:
- Apology letters
- Mandatory school attendance/ weekly school reports
- Random urinalysis
- Counseling and restorative justice programs
- Educational program (theft awareness, chemical education, anger management, tolerance and cultural sensitivity)
- Juvenile Detention Tour/Gadsden County Jail Tour
Case management will track clients, evaluate community service worksites and establish criteria and a code of expectations
An educational process where participants learn about the judicial process and how poor decision making destroys dreams
A prevention program where volunteers serve as jurors to see the problems other teens are facing because of poor decision making
A program where young people learn to respect the judicial system and develop positive citizenship attitudes and skills
An efficient, cost effective, and “get tough” prevention and diversion alternative