Sarasota faith leaders push for affordable diversion programs

Members of Sarasota’s faith community 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’s Attorney Ed Brodsky. The program is designed for certain non-violent offenders. This would allow them to follow a program to avoid arrest or a criminal record.

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

SURE members said it was important because these types of minor infractions follow people for life.

“It can make it harder for a person to get credit, rent an apartment, get a job, get into graduate schools. Get into the military,” Reverend Wayne said. Farrell, Co-Chair of SURE.

While SURE applauds the proposal, they are concerned about the costs of participation.

“If excessive fees discourage rather than encourage more people to participate in the process, hopefully we can find a way to make that more affordable,” Farrell said.

The state’s attorney and SURE did not reach an agreement on who should pay for the program at Tuesday’s meeting, but agreed to continue the conversation. The goal is to have the adult pre-arrest diversion program in place by the end of this year.