Report: Duval poised to be a state leader in juvenile civil citation use

June 26, 2018. Florida Times-Union.

For years, juvenile justice advocates slammed Duval County for arresting dozens of kids each month who could have avoided court and entanglement in the juvenile justice system altogether if they’d been offered a simple alternative.

But, a new report released Tuesday highlights the upward trend in the last year in that alternative — pre-arrest diversion, also called a civil citation — in the area judicial circuit. The progress followed the signing of a new memorandum of understanding among 22 local agencies, including the State Attorney’s Office of the Fourth Judicial Circuit, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and agencies from Clay and Nassau counties. Now, the report says, Duval County could be among the top-performing counties statewide in 2018.

Interfaith Group Gets Commitments On Affordable Housing, Civil Citations

April 17, 2018. WUSF News.

Elected leaders in Hillsborough County were in the hot seat Monday night, asked to commit on the spot to action on community issues.

More than 1,000 members of the interfaith group Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality (HOPE) asked officials for commitments on expanding the civil citation program, creating a local affordable housing trust fund and increased funding for elder care services. The event was part of the groups 2018 Nehemiah Action.

When asked, Hillsborough public defender Julianne Holt, Chief Judge Ronald Ficarrotta and State Attorney Andrew Warren said they will support extending the county’s civil citation program to include second and third misdemeanor offenses by minors.

Lee County group holding action meeting in hopes to keep kids out of jail

March 20, 2018. ABC 7.

Up to 1,000 people are expected to pack the pews at St. Columbkille Catholic Church Tuesday night for the Seventh Annual Nehemiah Action meeting.

The goal of the meeting is for citizens to confront the county commission and police chiefs from Cape Coral and Fort Myers about keeping children who make minor mistakes out of the criminal justice system.

One local man will share his son’s story. The boy could have been arrested for bringing a toy gun to school, but instead had the opportunity to take part in a diversionary program. Because of that, he was able to go on to play football and graduate.

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.