Faith Leaders in Florida to Hold First Public Forum with State Attorney Andrew Warren

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October 2, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Rhonda Smith, 

 

Faith Leaders in Florida to Hold First Public Forum with State Attorney Andrew Warren

 

TAMPA, Fla. – During the first public forum between Hillsborough County’s top prosecutor and faith-based leaders in Central Florida, a key question will be how to improve the relationship between police and communities of color. The forum will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 3 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Bible-Based Fellowship of Temple Terrace, 8718 N. 46th St in Tampa.

Faith in Florida, an affiliate of PICO National Network, today announced the “Accountability Forum.” 

The forum will mark the first public meeting with Andrew Warren, a Democrat elected in November and sworn in Jan. 3 as the state attorney of Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County.

Warren, who leads an office of about 130 prosecutors and previously was a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice in Tampa and Washington, D.C., has met twice in private with clergy members and lay leaders in the region.

Members of 12 faith-based congregations, representing about 3,000 members, are scheduled to take part in the public forum.

“Faith-based leaders and church members want to know more about what actions Warren plans to take to lower the county’s incarceration level, reduce detentions by county law enforcement officers of undocumented immigrants, and hold police accountable for bad behavior against black and Latino residents in particular,” said Nanci Palacios, an organizer with Faith in Florida.

“Between 1985 and 2014, the per capita jail population of Hillsborough County rose by 45 percent,” she said, citing statistics from the county. “In 2014, 78 percent of county jail inmates had not been convicted of any crime. “

Andrew Warren has a chance to change the conditions and patterns that have existed in Hillsborough for many, many years,” said Wes Lathrop, executive director, Faith in Florida. “He’s made his first big policy move around juvenile justice.”

During Warren’s campaign for state attorney of Hillsborough, he described the county’s criminal justice system as outdated and said it needed to be upgraded. He also said he favors embracing innovative reforms that had become commonplace in other major cities. They include using civil citations, instead of criminal convictions, to punish juveniles who commit first-time misdemeanor offenses.

Lathrop said expanding this policy would help prevent juveniles from prematurely developing criminal records.

Warren recently brokered a policy between the county’s courts and law enforcement officials, which took effect Aug. 1. It expanded Hillsborough County’s civil citations policy.

“We want to lift that up and celebrate it, but we’re going to need his moral leadership to continue,” Lathrop said. “We want him to cut against law enforcement trends that have been hurting families in the county for many years. It’s a good start, and there’s lot more to do.”

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Faith in Florida is a multicultural, nonpartisan network of congregation community organizations affiliated with PICO National Network.

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