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.

Spiritual Shenanigans: When Christians (and people of other faiths) actually act the way Jesus suggested, here’s what happens

August 6, 2017. CLTampa.com

The desire to bring about change is perhaps greater this year than it has been in decades in this country.  But finding ways to make a positive difference can be difficult. For some religious residents of Pinellas County, banding together has been a key to getting their voices heard to meet the needs of the community through the organization FAST (Faith and Action for Strength Together). 3,000 diverse members of FAST came together most recently on April 24 in Tropicana Field to meet with local politicians, including St. Pete’s mayor, Rick Kriseman, and ask for action on three chosen issues in an annual event they call the Nehemiah Action Assembly.  

Leaders of BOLD Justice hold ministry celebration in Hollywood house of worship

May 17, 2017. Hollywood Gazette.

The BOLD Justice (Broward Organized Leaders Doing Justice) recently held its Justice Ministry Celebration at Little Flower Catholic Church. Community activists and faith group leaders representing a wide variety of religious organizations joined together to celebrate their accomplishments and discuss their goals for the upcoming year. Throughout the night people shouted out, “We are Bold.”

More kids in trouble will be eligible for second chances under new civil citation policy

May 10, 2017. Florida Times-Union.

Wednesday afternoon marked a “historic” time for juvenile justice in Northeast Florida as State Attorney Melissa Nelson fulfilled a campaign promise long-awaited by reform-minded advocates.

The use of civil citations, an alternative to arrest for juvenile misdemeanor offenders, is expected to expand in Duval, Clay and Nassau counties, as the leaders of 22 agencies, including law enforcement, child services and the judicial system, signed on to an agreement for new rules.

Make youth arrests, homelessness top priorities, faith group says

The Rev. John D’Mello of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Palm Beach Gardens asked the thousands in the crowd to stand up from their seats if they had ever done something he said as a child.

Run through a parking lot trying to get home late at night? A handful stood up.

Steal a candy bar? A few dozen rose from their seats, some elderly attendees giggling at the memory.

Fought with a sibling? Nearly everyone in the Palm Beach Convention Center stood.