Space Coast Progressive Alliance

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Saturday, 07 February 2015 11:23

Help for Brevard's Homeless

Written by  Phil Stasik

Posted Sat. Feb. 7, 2015

Following SCPA 1st Thursday program OverCriminalized on February 5, SCPA President Phil Stasik sent a follow-up email message to the Brevard County Commissioners. That message is below:

Help for Brevard's Homeless

Dear Brevard County Commissioner:

Last Thursday, the Space Coast Progressive Alliance held a special event to explore the failure of our society to adequately help our community’s Homeless population.  Like most American counties, we rely too heavily on our police to manage our homeless, substance-addicted, and mentally ill citizens.  Our police do their best, but these are social problems, that should be headed-off by social services, not wiped-up by our criminal justice system.  

As a powerful leader in our community, you can make a difference to fix this.  Please help!

I’m sincerely sorry that you were not able to attend our event.  We missed you.

We had an excellent, expert panel, and a large group of special guests that represented diverse interests ranging from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, Mental Health Court, Public Defenders Office, and many other community leaders.  These people deal “in the trenches” with this issue every day.  We also had an engaged audience of concerned citizens, that participated in the discussion.

There are many needs of course, but we did drill down to three issues that rose to the top of the list:

     1. Brevard needs shelters, refuges, or safe housing for our troubled citizens.  With the closure of the “New Beginnings” refuge, our county now has no dependable place for the homeless to go. Charities are trying to fill this gap, but as you know, money is terribly short for everyone. Our Homeless, Addicted, and Mentally Ill pay a terrible price. This social service vacuum is sucking these folks into our jails, and sometimes off to prison.  Many of them die on our streets or languish in our hospitals. Our 72-mile-long county really needs multiple facilities, due to it’s geography.  Ideally, they would have some medical triage capability.  If this sounds expensive, it’s actually cheaper (and much more humane) than police action, the criminal courts, hospitalization, and incarceration!

     2. Please increase funding for our Brevard County’s wonderful Mental Health Court, and our Veteran’s Court.  These effective tools have helped many good people (who may have stumbled) back to their feet.  These progressive Court systems keep good people out of jail, and support them as productive citizens.  The Courts deserve expanded, dependable funding, that they can depend on into the future.

     3. Please increase funding for Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for ALL of Brevard’s Policemen, Deputies, and Troopers.  This training helps Law Enforcement personnel diffuse intense conflict situations that might otherwise end in violence.  Admirably, Brevard currently does some CIT training for it’s police, but this should be expanded to all officers, and importantly — should be recurrent.  These skills are proven to save lives, and protect all of us.  Realistic refresher CIT training will be a good investment by any standard.

Our County Board cannot solve all of life’s ills, but you can make a big difference in the lives of Brevard’s most vulnerable citizens.  Brevard’s Homeless, Addicted, and Mentally Ill are human beings who need our help now.  We can no longer turn our backs on them. We are asking for your help, and we, the Space Coast Progressive Alliance, will stand with you to help solve these pressing problems.

Sincerely,

Philip Stasik
President, Space Coast Progressive Alliance
http://scpaflorida.com
321-455-2221

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SCPA's 1st Thursday Feb. 5: OverCriminalized, videos with panel discussion, on homeless, mentally ill, + addicted.

Share three short videos online: OverCriminalized, from Brave New Films + ACLU + The Nation magazine.

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Compiled by Team SCPA

Last modified on Sunday, 08 February 2015 11:10
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