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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Group plans to protest, pray for lawmakers across state this week



This week, supporters of a juvenile justice reform that failed to pass during the legislative session will gather across the state to protest and pray.

At vigils in Miami-Dade, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Broward counties -- among others -- a group called Faith and Action for Strength Together will express "anger and disappointment in the state legislature," according to a press release.

The group wants to expand the state's civil citation program, which allows police to give children community service and access to intervention programs, rather than arrest them and give them a criminal record.

The Legislature expanded the program — originally a Miami-Dade project — statewide last year, but a plan this year to force the use of civil citations in more cases died in the House Judiciary Committee.

Under current law, law enforcement officers have a great deal of discretion over when civil citations are used as an alternative to an arrest. The failed bill would have required them to use civil citations in many first-time misdemeanor cases and given them the option of doing so in second- and third-time misdemeanors.

Before the session began, the same group sent letters advocating the change to House Judiciary Chairman Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville.

Here are the details for vigils across the state:

Bartow: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Fort Blount Park
* Daytona Beach: 6:30 p.m. Monday, Bethune Cookman University, 640 Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Blvd.
Fort Myers: 7 p.m. Monday, Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers, 13411 Shire Lane
Hollywood: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Little Flower Catholic Church, 1805 Pierce St.
Jacksonville: 7 p.m. Thursday, Abyssinia Baptist Church, 10325 Interstate Center Drive
Miami: 7:30 p.m. Monday, New Birth Baptist Church, 2300 NW 135th St.
Sarasota6 p.m. Thursday, Trinity Christian Fellowship Center, 1925 Northgate Blvd.
St. Petersburg: 7 p.m. Monday, Bethel Community Baptist Church, 2901 54th Ave. South
Temple Terrace: 7 p.m. Monday, Corpus Christie Catholic Church, 9715 N. 56th St.
* West Palm Beach: 7 p.m. Monday, Palm Beach Convention Center, 600 Okeechobee Blvd.

[Last modified: Monday, March 14, 2016 1:49pm]


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