‘It’s a major problem’ Justice Knox meets to discuss mental illness crisis behind bars

February 23, 2020. WBIR.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — For more than a decade, Leon Evans has worked to divert people with mental illness from jail in Texas.

He said he’s proven that treatment works in San Antonio.

“The Texas prison system is actually working on shutting down their third prison,” Evans told 10News. “The prison system actually pays for mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment.”

Now, he’s bringing his expertise to Knox County, Tennessee.

Justice Knox, which is an interfaith collaboration tackling criminal justice issues, hosted Evans for a series of meetings on Thursday.

FAST secures commitments for ‘one stop shop’ mental health service plan in Pinellas County

April 9, 2019. St. Pete Catalyst.

Residents of Pinellas County may soon have a single place to go when facing a mental health crisis, thanks to commitments secured by Faith and Action for Strength Together (FAST) Monday night at Tropicana Field.

FAST is a grassroots coalition of more than 40 religious congregations throughout Pinellas County. The organization gathered 2,500 people at Tropicana Field to ask public officials to commit to proposed solutions for systemic problems facing the county.

Thousands of people plan St. Petersburg rally on lack of affordable housing funds

April 8, 2019. WTSP.COM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Thousands of people are planning to hold a rally because they’re upset about the lack of spending on affordable housing in St. Petersburg.

Around 3,000 people are expected to gather around 7 p.m. Monday at Tropicana Field.

The group, Faith and Action for Strength Together (F.A.S.T.), is upset Mayor Rick Kriseman doesn’t plan on spending $15 million for affordable housing until 2023, according to a news release from Ephiphany Summers. They hope to put pressure on Kriseman to begin spending on affordable housing using Penny for Pinellas funds as soon as next year. The group hopes city leaders find another way to pay for and make affordable housing a priority.

Social justice group to focus on senior abuse in nursing homes

April 1, 2019. The Sun Sentinel.

They work behind the scenes trying to fix what’s wrong in the community.

They are BOLD Justice, or Broward Organized Leaders Doing Justice, an interfaith organization comprised of 23 congregations throughout Broward County.

The group is hosting a free event April 8 expected to draw more than 1,200 people, including Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony.

Advocates Ask Metro Council To Protect City Funding For ‘The Living Room’

March 27, 2019. 89.3 WFPL.

Centerstone’s The Living Room program helps people with mental health and substance abuse issues avoid jail. But looming city budget cuts could threaten the program’s future less than two years after it opened.

Mayor Greg Fischer’s office has projected a $65 million budget shortfall by 2023 due largely to rising employee pension costs. In order to fill the gap, Fischer proposed tripling the insurance premium tax. A council committee approved a compromise measure — gradually doubling the insurance premium tax from 5 percent to 10 percent on lines other than auto and health, and $15 million in city budget cuts. But Metro Council voted down the plan and now they will move forward to cut $35 million from the upcoming year’s budget that begins July 1.