What has HOPE been up to?
It’s been a busy summer for HOPE leaders, so we want to share with you lots of exciting updates!
After our March 22 Nehemiah Action with over 2,000 leaders and local decision makers, we organized a Racial Profiling Summit with criminal justice decision makers, HOPE leaders, and Dr. Jack McDevitt of Northeastern University. We were please to have State Attorney Warren, Public Defender Holt, Chief Judge Ficarrotta, Clerk of Court Stuart, Temple Terrace Police Chief Albano, and Plant City Police Chief Bradford attend. However, we were extremely disappointed Hillsborough County Sheriff Chronister and Tampa Police Chief Dugan did not attend, though they sent representatives. Dr. McDevitt presented on the importance of tracking ALL traffic stops, regardless if they result in a citation, arrest, warning, or nothing at all. Tracking and analyzing stops that don’t result in anything helps law enforcement agencies adequately understand and address biases that are happening within their agency. We will continue to press for adequate data collection and analysis on traffic stops. Tampa Bay Times did a great in-depth article on the importance of good data collection and analysis on traffic stops and interviewed Laurie Jones, our Criminal Justice Committee Co-Chair, on our work.
In May, we got Criminal Justice Decision Makers to make youth civil citations mandatory for all first-time misdemeanor offenses to reduce youth arrests. This will lead to hundreds of children each year avoiding lifelong criminal records. The policy went into effect June 1. We will be monitoring the usage of civil citation usage to ensure all eligible children get the second chance they deserve.
In March, Sabal Place Apartments opened, which was partly funded by the local HOPE Affordable Housing Funds. It is a partnership between BlueSky Communities and Metropolitan Ministries. Several HOPE leaders took a tour of the development with Shawn Wilson of BlueSky Communities. It was so exciting to see the fruits of our affordable housing work over the past 7 years! We will continue to monitor the use of the HOPE Funds to make sure the money is being spent, particularly for low and very low-income families.
For our Mental Health work, we are pushing for sufficient funding for the Hillsborough Recovery-Through-Work Clubhouse, which is set to open in early 2022. HOPE leaders have been meeting with County Commissioners and attending Board of County Commission Meetings and Budget Workshops to make sure commissioners put funding in the 2022 and 2023 county budgets. So far, $300,000 is recommended for the 2022 budget. We will be working to ensure $500,000 is allocated for the Clubhouse in the 2023 county budget, which would be its first full, operational year. HOPE leaders will be advocating for adequate funding at the upcoming County Budget Workshop in September.
Call to Justice
And last, as part of our Statewide Criminal Justice Collaborative with other sister organizations across Florida, we held a Call to Justice Event with over 300 leaders present. We lifted up communities and officials across the state who are leading the way in working to reduce youth and adult arrests. State Attorney Warren spoke about the recent change to Hillsborough’s youth civil citation program. A leader from HOPE gave her testimony about her son getting arrested in front of his 5-year-old daughter because his license was unknowingly suspended. After several moves, he did not receive notifications that his insurance payment did not go through and as a result, his license was suspended.