For kids seeking second chances, Pinellas a better place to be than Hillsborough, study shows

October 27, 2017. TBO.

When it comes to second chances, one side of Tampa Bay is a better place to be a kid in trouble than the other.

That’s according to a report released this week grading Florida counties on how often they use juvenile diversion programs, which send low-level offenders through counseling and community service as an alternative to arrest.

The “Stepping Up” report — conducted by a St. Petersburg think tank and supported by organizations including the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center and The James Madison Institute — named Pinellas County one of the top programs in the state with a 94 percent utilization rate between January and December last year, tied for first with Miami-Dade.

North Charleston moves forward with new DOJ agreement as activist groups demand police assessment

October 27, 2017. Charleston City Paper.

North Charleston City Council unanimously voted to approve a new memorandum of understanding with the Department of Justice, further cementing the federal agency’s step away from collaborative reform with the city’s police department.

Pinellas County faith leaders tackle youth crime

October 23, 2017. WTSP.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — About 500 people, members of churches or temples in Pinellas County, met on Monday to take on a vital new mission: “Youth Concerns.”

The meeting by Faith and Action for Strength Together comes after eight teens died in stolen cars within the past two years, a timeframe in which 800 teenagers were arrested for stealing cars.

“We’re all concerned about this issue,” Mt. Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Clark Hazley said. “It’s sad to see young people dying when it could have been prevented.”

Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

October 23, 2017. Tampa Bay Times.

ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay’s largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

Hundreds of members of Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST) voted overwhelmingly Monday night to make “youth concerns,” including crime, their greatest worry in the community.

The organization, made up of several local congregations, has advocated for juvenile diversion programs before. But Pinellas County’s teen car theft epidemic, religious leaders said, has left them more worried now than ever.

Citizens Taking The Next Step To Retrieve COPS Report

September 28, 2017. The Chronicle.

A coalition formed since the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) announced it will not release its report on its assessment of the North Charleston Police Department initiated last year, is calling for community engagement to force the federal agency to produce the document.

A coalition of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc. (NAACPLDF), the North Charleston Branch NAACP, The Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Community Resource Center last week called on citizens to contact local, state and federal elected officials asking them to push for release of the COPS report.