Broward group pushes diversion programs intead of arrests for some
FORT LAUDERDALE - Broward Organized Leaders Doing Justice sat down with Broward County State Attorney Harold Pryor Tuesday morning to push for people to be given adult citations, rather than be arrested.
"I was driving to work, and a car got in front of me. I tried to dodge it, I tried to avoid it, but I hit the box of a motorcycle. Nothing happened to the guy on the motorcycle," a man who did not want to be identified said.
The man also happens to be an undocumented migrant, we translated what he said. While he does not want to be identified, he did want to share what happened to him.
It happened last year while he was on his way to work in Pembroke Pines. The motorcyclist called police and he stayed on the scene.
"I gave him the registration, my passport and everything because I don't have a license. So, when he took that from me, then the other one came and told me I think they're going to arrest you, because you know that is a violation here in Florida, driving without a license," he said.
He told us he has to drive to work to make a living to provide for his family, but now he has a police record that could affect him for the rest of his life, and it could also affect his immigration status. He was afraid much worse would have happened, but he called a lawyer.
"So, what happens is if they get arrested and they do have to pay a fine and they can't pay it they have to pay higher fees," Brian Campbell, BOLD Justice Co-President said.
Members with BOLD Justice say arresting people for small offenses punishes those struggling the most, they are asking State Attorney Harold Pryor to get more adults into arrest diversion programs as he has promised.
"What he agreed to is by the end of March, end of the first quarter of this year, he's going to set up a meeting with himself, BSO the largest law enforcement agency in Broward and the members of our team to go over and come up with a plan," Campbell shared.
Part of the plan is to have more policing agencies implement the adult civil citation program, which can help people avoid jail, or increased penalties. They've been stepping up their push since last November when CBS4 first covered this. They think this is particularly beneficial for people in communities of color.
The State Attorney's Office also shared a PowerPoint that was discussed in the meeting, as part of the solution, Pryor wrote, "Regardless of whether police agencies participate or not, the State Attorney's Office will continue to make use of the diversion programs already in place.
"If they're in jail that means they can't go to work, so they don't have the money to pay the fines that lead up to their license being suspended," Campbell added.
The group hopes to have another update in March.
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