FAST wants more Penny for Pinellas tax money spent on affordable housing

April 24, 2017. Tampa Bay Times.

ST. PETERSBURG — City and county officials were asked to commit millions of dollars of sales tax revenues to build more affordable housing in Pinellas during a gathering of about 3,000 people Monday night at Tropicana Field.


 The program was the latest effort by a group of religious congregations called FAST, with the motto “Faith and Action for Strength Together,” to get local governments to spend more money to secure housing for the county’s poorer residents.

Religious leaders in Pinellas County want to end school to prison cycle

April 3, 2017. FOX 13 News.

CLEARWATER – A group of religious leaders in Pinellas County says arrests, even for minor crimes, can ruin kids’ futures.

They want to end the cycle before it’s too late, starting in the classroom.

Lorenzo Arscott says it took just one arrest to steal his son’s future.

Should first-time juvenile offenders receive citation instead of arrest?

March 20, 2017. News4Jax.

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Under some new legislation moving through the state Senate, first-time misdemeanor offenders under the age of 18 would receive a civil citation instead of an arrest record, but Florida’s sheriffs and police chiefs are pushing back on the idea.

As is outlined in the Senate bill, police would be required to issue civil citations to first-time juvenile misdemeanor offenders for 11 crimes.

Pinellas group calls for local representative’s support of youth citation bill

March 2, 2017. Tampa Bay Times. 

PALM HARBOR — At 26, Samantha Hernandez still remembers her 12-year-old self perusing the jewelry section of the Beall’s store in Lehigh Acres and spotting the $8 necklace with its fake sparkly diamonds.

She says she had the money and wanted to buy it. But an employee approached Hernandez and told her to leave. As she and a friend stepped outside, Hernandez realized she still had the necklace.

Coalition of churches call for expansion of state’s juvenile citation program

October 25, 2016. The Tampa Bay Times.

When she was caught stealing an $8 necklace as a 12-year-old, Samantha Hernandez said she was tackled to the ground and arrested, yet told the crime would be cleared from her record by the time she was 18.

That wasn’t the case.

“I’m now 25, and that arrest from 13 years ago still comes up when I apply for jobs, college and housing,” Hernandez said.