January 16, 2015. January 16, 2015.

Sarasota–As many as 15 Sarasota church congregations join together to raise awareness of youth arrests, and plan to include messages in their weekend sermons.

SURE, Sarasota United for Responsibility and Equity and the NAACP of Sarasota have joined forces to shed light on what they say is an alarming number of youth receiving arrest records for first time, non-serious misdemeanors in Florida, and specifically Sarasota.

Rev. Keturah Pittman, with Greater Hurst Chapel, and a SURE member, says she’s heard stories of a kids a young as 12 who were arrested for minor misdemeanors and lost out on opportunities to go into the military or take the bar exam, because the records have followed them into adulthood.

All of SURE’s 15 church congregations have agreed to preach the message of youth justice at this Sunday’s church services, in conjunction with Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday celebrations on Monday.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has information on juvenile diversion programs on its website at www.fdle.state.fl.us. There is a $75 fee application fee and a list of criteria to be met in order to have a youthful arrest expunged.