By Jonee Lewis, FOX 13

Members of the faith-based community in Sarasota said they want more programs that stop “criminalizing poverty.”

Sarasota United for Responsibility and Equity (SURE) held a meeting to discuss a new pre-arrest diversion program proposed by State Attorney Ed Brodsky. The program is designed for select nonviolent misdemeanor offenders. It would allow them to complete a program to avoid arrest or a criminal record.

“This is an opportunity for officers on the street, before they’re ever arrested, to offer them a diversionary program to basically offer them a civil citation and avoid an arrest record or a criminal conviction,” Ed Brodsky, 12th Circuit State Attorney said.

Members of SURE said this is important because these kinds of minor offenses follow people for life.

“It can make it more difficult for a person to obtain credit, rent an apartment, to get a job, to get into schools of higher education. To get into the military,” Rev. Wayne Farrell, SURE Co-Chair said.

While SURE applauds the proposal, they are concerned about the costs to participate.

“If excessive fees are going to discourage instead of encouraging more people to participate in the process, we would hope we could find a way to make this most affordable,” Farrell said.

The State Attorney and SURE did not come to an agreement about who should pay for the program during Tuesday’s meeting but agreed to continue the conversation. The goal is to have the Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program running by the end of this year.

See original story here.