Thousands gather throughout Florida to demand state stop arresting children for minor offenses

Date: October 24, 2016


Press Contact:  

Msgr. Chanel Jeanty 305 572 0602

Rev. Willie McClendon and Fr. Chris Hoffmann 727-465-8765


Thousands gather throughout Florida to demand state stop arresting children for minor offenses


Last year 10,000 children who committed non-violent, first time offenses were not given equal access to the state’s successful civil citation program.  Instead they were branded for life with criminal records.


Hillsborough and Duval Counties particularly remain outliers and refuse to give all eligible children access to civil citations, arresting more and more children each year for minor offenses.[1]


In the 2016  legislative session Rep. Trujillo and the Criminal Justice Sub-committee filed a bill to ensure that all children in the state receive equal access to the state’s successful arrest avoidance programs.  Though the bill passed  5 of the assigned 6 committees it was blocked from getting to a full vote.  This year faith leaders are determined to get the bill passed. Rep. Spano (R) from Hillsborough and Sen. Flores (R) Miami-Dade, have committed to file the bill again in the 2017 legislative session.


Citizens will  gather at 10 assemblies throughout the state to ask legislative candidates to  co-sponsor next year’s bill. 


Assemblies will be held:

Monday Oct. 24th

-          7pm Holy Family Catholic Church 200 78th Ave. NE St. Petersburg

-          7pm Corpus Christie Catholic Church 9715 North 56th St. Temple Terrace

-          6pm Bethlehem Bible Church 1680 18th St. Sarasota

-          7pm St. Joseph Catholic Church 532 Ave. M NW Winter Haven

-          7pm Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church 801 8th St. West Palm Beach

Tuesday October 25th

-          7pm Christ the King Catholic Church, Jacksonville     

Monday Nov. 7th

-          6:30pm Greater Friendship Baptist Church, Daytona Beach

Monday Nov. 14th

-          7:30pm Ebenezer United Methodist Church, 2001 NW 35th Street, Miami, FL 33142


(Assemblies were already held in Lee and Broward)


 Nearly 30 Republican and Democratic Candidates for the Florida  legislature have  confirmed their attendance


Here are stories from some of the people who will speak to legislative candidates:


Pinellas County, Sami 

When I was 12-years-old I stole an eight dollar bracelet from Beal’s. When I was caught, I offered to pay for it, but instead, I was tackled to the ground and put in handcuffs. I was arrested on a misdemeanor charge.  At the age of 18 when I went to apply for a job as a medical tech the arrest was still on my record and blocked me from getting hired.  Now, I’m 25 and that arrest from 13 years ago still comes up when I apply for jobs, college, and housing.


Last year, my fifteen-year-old sister was caught shoplifting. Instead of being arrested she was given a civil citation.  She paid a $200 fine, did 20 hours of community service, and took classes in anger management and peer pressure and bullying. My sister learned from the experience and she does not have the arrest record that I have to deal with on a daily basis.


Broward County- Lorie 

My friend’s son was 16 when he went to a concert. The concert got out late.  He was parked at the top of the parking garage.  They had closed all of the bathrooms.  The traffic to get out wasn't moving and he didn't think he could hold it any longer.  So he went to a corner of the garage to pee.  A police officer saw him and arrested him for indecent exposure. Later he was this arrest record was a big obstacle when applying for law school.


Sarasota County- Natalie 

My son was arrested at 12 years old for a misdemeanor marijuana charge.  He had no other charges and she got the record expunged.  However, at 17 after going through all the requirements to join the army he was told that he was ineligible because of his arrest.


Volusia County- Alexis

Alexis is on the autism spectrum. She was in fourth grade when she was arrested the first time for running out of an improperly supervised classroom and making contact with a staff member with a stick she found. This initial arrest shocked her mother, but her shock was made worse when she was put on notice that the school would arrest Alexis every time that she engaged in similar disability-related behavior.




These community assemblies are organized by the 10 DART Justice Ministry Organizations in Florida.

[1] Stepping up 2016 study