Justice Ministry calls for outside review of Charleston Police Department

November 22, 2016. The Post and Courier.

A day after Charleston officials touted the progress their police department has made in building trust with the community, the Charleston Area Justice Ministry said that wasn’t enough and urged City Council to hire a specialized firm to conduct an outside review of the department.

The interfaith group held a press conference announcing its position in Washington Square, just minutes before City Council’s Tuesday meeting next door at City Hall. Members of the ministry then repeated their message during the meeting and presented a petition from 500 residents calling for the audit.

Ministry officials said they want “a qualified, independent, external police auditor” to conduct a review of the police department to identify any policing tactics and policies rooted in racial biases.

Justice Matters calls for suspension of jail expansion funding, establishment of crisis center in new report

October 26, 2016. Lawrence Journal-World.

Local interfaith coalition Justice Matters released a list of six recommendations Wednesday as part of a report on the county’s criminal justice reform plans, including calls for the immediate establishment of a crisis center and suspension of all funding for the proposed expansion of the Douglas County Jail.

The group’s report argues that the county should explore programs that have proven safe and successful elsewhere before moving forward on the $30 million jail expansion project, said Ben MacConnell, the group’s lead organizer.

Statewide push on for juvenile citations rather than arrests in minor offenses

October 26, 2016. TBO.com

About midway through the 28th annual conference of the Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality, Father John Tapp took the pulpit.

For the 600 or so churchgoers gathered in the sanctuary at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Temple Terrace, it was time for confession.

“Let’s think back to our own childhood and teenage years. If I name something you did while under 18, please stand and remain standing,” Tapp said to the laughing but obedient crowd.

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.

Pinellas School Board candidates invited to pledge support at FAST assembly tonight

October 24, 2016. The Tampa Bay Times.

All four Pinellas County School Board candidates have been invited to stand with a faith-based group pushing a bill to curb arrests among children.

Faith and Action for Strength Together, or FAST, has invited the candidates to a St. Petersburg assembly — one of 10 held around the state — to pledge to eliminate out-of-school suspensions, reduce unnecessary arrests and support effective reading curriculum in high-poverty schools.