Officials support civil citations for Volusia youths committing minor offenses

April 30, 2018. The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Hundreds and hundreds of eligible Volusia children would no longer be arrested for minor offenses when new legislation justice officials agreed to support Monday night makes it mandatory to issue civil citations instead of handcuffs.

At a packed meeting held by Fighting Against Injustice Toward Harmony (F.A.I.T.H.), a faith-based group, State Attorney R.J. Larizza, Sheriff Mike Chitwood, Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri and Dan Merrithew of the Department of Juvenile Justice, pledged their support to help Volusia’s children.

FAITH continues fight for Volusia County shelter

March 14, 2016. The Daytona-Beach News Journal.

DAYTONA BEACH — Despite all the uncertainty swirling around the protracted debate over whether to build a new homeless shelter in Volusia County, one thing is certain: The FAITH group that has fought so passionately for the one-stop assistance center for the unsheltered has not lost an ounce of its faith in the idea.

F.A.I.T.H. seeks changes to ease homelessness, reduce youth arrests

March 16, 2015. The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

F.A.I.T.H. members said Monday they want the Volusia County Council to commit to opening an around-the-clock homeless shelter called the Volusia Safe Harbor that will include case management, intake center, beds, food and medical services.

Members of the faith community challenged elected officials Monday night to reduce youth arrests, change the job application process to make it easier for convicted criminals to find employment and vow to support a homeless shelter that would stay open around the clock.

The meeting was organized by the Fighting Against Injustice Toward Harmony Organization (F.A.I.T.H), which is comprised of 32 church congregations. Yes or no questions were drafted by members of the organization and given to elected officials that were present, including county and city council members, police chiefs and mayors.

Members of F.A.I.T.H. said too many children in Volusia County Schools are arrested and left with permanent records that cause a barrier to future employment, military involvement and college scholarships.

During Monday’s assembly, the group asked the Daytona Beach and New Smyrna police departments to increase the number of civil citations offered to minors. Civil citations give first-time misdemeanor offenders the opportunity to participate in intervention services at the earliest stage of delinquency, rather than being arrested.

Data presented by F.A.I.T.H. during the meeting showed 525 youths in Volusia County were arrested when they could have been given a civil citation.

Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood and New Smyrna Beach Police Lt. Christopher Roos said they would work to increase the number of civil citations issued.

On job applications: Members of F.A.I.T.H said people who have been arrested or convicted of a crime need a fairer process when they apply for jobs.

The group asked Daytona Beach officials to remove the box on job applications that asks about criminal background.

Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry and Commissioners Paula Reed, Ruth Trager and Pam Woods said they would work to draft an ordinance to ban asking that information.

“It is in our best interest to make good for all our citizens who have made past mistakes to give them a second chance. I believe in a God who believes in second chances,” Henry said.

On homelessness: More than 5,000 homeless people live in Volusia County, but members of the group are concerned there are only 21 emergency beds for single homeless people.

F.A.I.T.H wants the Volusia County Council to commit to opening an around-the-clock shelter called the Volusia Safe Harbor that will include case management, intake center, beds, food and medical services. While most city and county officials present said they would work to help fund the effort,

Phil Egitto, co-chairman of the the group, said similar meetings in past years have succeeded in making changes in the county, including implementing nighttime bus service, beginning drug treatment programs in the jail, and prompting an increased police force in Daytona Beach.

FAITH spearheads creation of Volusia Safe Harbor, shelter to house 250

Volusia County, FL – In 2014, FAITH’s listening process surfaced dramatic stories of people that are homeless being arrested merely for having nowhere to go.  Further research identified a clear need for more shelter beds for individuals who are homeless — as of 2015, there were 21 shelter beds in Volusia County and a homeless population of nearly 5,000 people.  At the 2015 Action Assembly, with the power of 1,205 people, FAITH won commitments from Volusia County Council Members to donate land and $4 million for a shelter that will house 250 single homeless people. The shelter, called Volusia Safe Harbor, will be operated 24/7 and will include case management, intake center, bed, food, and medical and mental health services. Volusia city officials from nine municipalities also agreed to work together to fund the operating expenses of Volusia Safe Harbor.