UUCFL at the Nehemiah Action
Even though the Nehemiah Action was virtual this year, our UUCFL reps to BOLD Justice (Marie Turner and Betty Brantley) want you to know that our community organizing efforts continue and are bearing fruit. We're particularly grateful to those of you who have participated in Zoom calls with officials. Your faces mattered as you virtually show up!
For several years we've worked with other community organizing groups all over the state to have civil citations used more frequently so that first time nonviolent offenders don't start life with a criminal record. In a recent phone call with Sheriff Tony, he committed to get 80% of all eligible youth and adult offenders into the civil citation program.
You will also remember that in support of our citizens suffering from mental health issue we've pressured the Sheriff's office to fully train all officers in nonviolent intervention for persons in crisis. Thus far 917 of the 1,400 officers have been trained, and your continued help is needed in keeping this matter front and center for Sheriff Tony. You might want to send him a note or email expressing your support. There was also a successful meeting with Broward County Commissioner Nan Rich who will champion our efforts for more affordable housing units for the homeless and mentally ill.
Regarding our work to see that our senior citizens are treated well, we continue to be concerned that several assisted living facilities and nursing homes still do not have generators in violation of state regulations. BOLD Justice leaders continue to insist on compliance and on unannounced inspections.
BOLD Justice is an interfaith coalition of 20 congregations that brings together people from the
diverse cultural and religious backgrounds in Broward County to build relationships around
shared values such as wanting safe neighborhoods, good schools, access to jobs.
Nehemiah Action Assembly Updates
Safety in Nursing Homes
Assistant State Attorney Maria Schneider attended and provided an update on Operation Spot Check, or the unannounced inspections of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
There have been 12 Operation Spot Check Inspections that have found serious problems.
The State Attorney’s Office committed to continue to advocate for senior citizens in Broward County.
As a first step, the State Attorney’s Office, BOLD Justice leaders, and the state agency are meeting to begin a dialogue about what steps can be taken to improve facilities.
Mental Illness & Housing
During a pre-meeting with Commissioner Nan Rich, BOLD Justice leaders asked her to spearhead an initiative to provide permenant supportive housing (PSH) to at least 200 people living with mental illness.
Commissioner Rich did not attend this year’s Action, but her office sent BOLD Justice leaders her plan for expanding PSH and it was significantly less than the 200 that is needed. We are setting another meeting with her office to discuss this.
While Commissioner Rich was not present, Vice Mayor Dale Holness was in attendance at the Action.
Vice Mayor Holness committed to support efforts to provide PSH to at least 200 additional people living with mental illness.
Crisis Intervention Team Training:
Sheriff Gregory Tony committed to provide $100,000 in funding to expand training for his officers on how to deal with individuals suffering from a mental illness.
Sheriff Gregory Tony committed to set a goal of getting Broward Sheriff’s Office’s civil citation useage up to 80% for eligible youth.
We have a lot to celebrate this year!
Read our Blog Below for the Latest News and Events Info
Past accomplishments include:
-- $23 million in new affordable rental units from the Broward County Commission
-- Locally based drug treatment rather than prison for 4,000 non-violent offenders
-- 3 employees trained to assist 900 individuals/week to streamlined access to
-- Workforce Investment Act which gave Broward residents first chance at jobs created by
$230 million worth of contracts with incentives to hire traditionally hard to hire
More than 1200 people turned out for the 2018 Nehemiah Action Assembly! We asked for
justice for: Seniors ~ mentally ill ~ kids with arrest records
Mental Health: Sheriff Israel committed to provide $110,500 in funding to expand CIT training for
his officers on how to deal with mentally ill suspects and to continue until all of his street officers
Seniors: The Assistant State Attorney, Maria Schneider, committed to coordinate with other
agencies in Broward County and the State of Florida to begin periodic unannounced inspections
of nursing homes. Sheriff Israel committed to participate when those are in his jurisdiction.
Juvenile Arrest: While we were not able to deal the blow to the “school to prison pipeline” that
we’d hoped to, the attention we’ve brought and the compromise bill passed in the Florida
Legislature this year have made things better for now. (Things are considerably better in South
Florida than when we started working on Civil Citations.) The new mandatory record keeping
will, at least, provide ammunition for another attack in the future.
Marie Turner, Mary Zalaznik and Susan Dirgins-Friend
UUCFL's Marie Turner, Rev. Susan and Mary Zalaznik with
BOLD Justice Assistant Organizer Paige Shortsleeves