Hundreds of citizens gathered last evening at the Hyatt in Sarasota to celebrate the 22nd annual NAACP Freedom awards. I received the public service award and was given two minutes to speak. This is what I said:
"Thank you, I am very grateful and honored to receive this award. I accept on behalf of everyone who has ever worked with or for the Public Defenders Office. And I also take this opportunity to remind you:
That while we are gathered here for this wonderful banquet tonight, one mile away there are a thousand of our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, incarcerated at the Sarasota County Jail. And within the next year, most of these people will be released back to our community, and my challenge to you this evening, is what will we do to help keep them from going back.
And while we join together in fellowhip tonight, our Florida Legislature is at work, slashing heath care for our most needy, eliminating treatment for our addicted, and cutting education for our next generations, while continuing to spend upwards of 50 million dollars a year to fund a deeply flawed death penalty and I have to ask you, are our priorities in order?
And when I read the results of the Census Bureau released just last week, that shows that 3 times as many Black and Hispanics behind prison bars than live on college campuses, it reminds us all of how much more work there is left to do.
For all of these reasons I say to you Long live the NAACP."