Sixteen hundred people got together at St. David Catholic Church to participate in the Nehemiah Action. The event was organized by Broward Organized Leaders Doing Justice or BOLD Justice. Important goals include reducing juvenile arrests, providing better living conditions for senior citizens and helping the mentally ill.
Some young people may get arrested for non-serious offenses. This means it will be difficult for them to get jobs, join the military, qualify for housing or receive college scholarships. Florida’s Civil Citation program, Fl. Statute 985, diverts juveniles from an arrest record toward a community-based diversion program. Offered for first time misdemeanors, this program allows juveniles to make restitution to victims and complete intervention to change their behavior without obtaining a criminal record. Research data show that children who go through the civil citation program are three times less likely to get into trouble again. The cost for a Civil Citation is $385 compared to nearly $5,000 for a juvenile to processed by the Juvenile Court system.
The Hollywood Police Department has been committed to Civil Citations. The Department began implementing Civil Citations in 2015 and since that time has enrolled 52 percent of eligible children in the program. Now about 100 percent of eligible youth in Hollywood receive a Civil Citation. Currently, BOLD Justice is working to pass legislation to allow a Civil Citation up to three times for an eligible offense. Throughout Florida, 333 children have received second- or third-chance civil citations.
The problem is that not enough children are receiving the citations. Legislation is under consideration that would make Civil Citations mandatory for first-time, non-serious offenses committed by juveniles. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and State Attorney Michael Satz have written letters in support of the bill and Israel has committed to going to Tallahassee to testify in favor of the bill.
Another goal for BOLD Justice is to improve living conditions for seniors. About 15 percent of Broward’s population is 65 or older. Traditional nursing homes often struggle to provide adequate care. BOLD Justice wants to develop the Green House concept. This is a self-contained nursing home for 10 to 12 people similar to a regular home in the community. Each person who lives in a Green House is treated as an individual with the ability to make decisions about their care and life. They have more direct staff time and interaction than traditional homes. BOLD Justice wants a Green House Nursing Home accessible to seniors of all income levels, especially the poor. Goals include asking community leaders to create a study group to identify land and funding options for Green Houses.
Helping the mentally ill is another priority for BOLD Justice. About one third of people in the Broward County Jail suffer from mental illness. It costs $130 a day to keep someone with mental illness in jail. The goal is to intervene early. BOLD Justice wants police officers to direct people with mental illness toward mental health services rather than just arresting them. Crisis Intervention Team Training (CIT) has worked around the nation. It is a 40-hour training program that officers go through to help them deal with a person suffering from mental illness. This training reduces injuries to people suffering from mental illness and police officers. Sheriff Israel has committed to having all 2,800 Broward County officers trained in CIT by 2020.
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