May 3, 2023; HOLLYWOOD, FL. Yesterday, the Florida Justice Institute (FJI), in partnership with Fort Lauderdale lawyer Mara Shlackman, filed a lawsuit challenging three Hollywood anti-panhandling ordinances as unconstitutional restrictions of free speech. The ordinances require people soliciting donations to obtain a permit, impose various restrictions on panhandling—including outright banning it in certain areas—and prohibit […]
Mr. Murillo’s Story
Although people are sent to prison as punishment for a crime, as human beings they are still entitled to adequate medical care. In addition to being the morally right thing to do, it improves the chances that they can rejoin society ready to make positive changes in the world. Unfortunately, in Florida prisons, the medical […]
FJI was able to help Lucy get a wheelchair and give her peace of mind.
We want to share with you a story of one of the individuals we were able to help through our case helping incarcerated people with physical disabilities. Meet Lucy*. Lucy – 74 – lived her whole life serving others as a registered nurse. She developed painful arthritis that left her with chronic pain and in […]
FJI helps Elmer Williams receive Compassion Release and other resources
Elmer was a 32-year-old father when he was sentenced to 40 years in prison for a nonviolent burglary. Now 56-years-old, he has advanced prostate cancer and only six months to live. Having successfully gotten conditional medical release for Elmer, Florida Justice Institute was able to help him get the medical support he needed upon his […]
FJI goes to trial
Last week, FJI attorneys went to court to stop the criminalization of poverty in our communities. Trials in two separate cases took place last week on whether panhandling ordinances violate the First Amendment, or whether cities can needlessly arrest people for requesting donations. In McDonald v. Pompano Beach, we originally challenged an ordinance which imposed […]
Florida Department of Corrections Pays $350,000 to Family of Incarcerated Man Brutally Murdered at Dade Correctional Institution
The family of Anthony Vidal, who was brutally murdered while incarcerated at Dade Correctional Institution (Dade CI), has settled a civil rights lawsuit against the Florida Department of Corrections and other individual officers for $350,000. The family was represented by the Florida Justice Institute (FJI), a nonprofit law firm dedicated to safeguarding civil rights in […]
Three Brevard County Residents To Attend First Brevard County Commission Meeting Fully Open to the Public Following Amendment to Sex Offender Ordinance
The doors to the Brevard County Government Center are finally open to all. On May 17, 2022, Vincent Rinaldi, Charles Munsey Jr., and Charles Violi—plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging a Brevard County Ordinance that prohibited them from entering the County government building—will be allowed to attend a Brevard County commission meeting for the first time […]
Lawsuit Challenges Palm Beach County Ordinance that makes it a Crime for People to Solicit for Charitable Contributions or Business along any Road.
MARCH 3, 2022, WEST PALM BEACH – Yesterday, the Florida Justice Institute (FJI), with West Palm Beach attorney Sabarish Neelakanta, filed a lawsuit against Palm Beach County seeking to invalidate a County ordinance that makes it a crime for people to solicit for charitable contributions or business along any road. The ordinance also criminalizes displaying […]
Letter requesting stop to the prosecution of individuals under Palm Beach County’s ordinance.
Florida Justice Institute, together with lawyer Sabarish Neelakanta of SPN Law have sent a letter to the West Palm Beach State Attorney to request a stop to the prosecution of individuals under Palm Beach County’s ordinance concerning solicitation and distribution, or panhandling. A local judge found the ordinance unconstitutional, but police continue to arrest individuals […]
Letter Objecting to Attorney Call Rule
Florida Justice Institute, along with other civil rights organizations and individual lawyers, are urging the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) to reject proposed revisions to a rule that would limit the ability of attorneys to arrange calls with incarcerated people. The changes appear to state that an attorney may only arrange a private, unmonitored telephone […]
Lawsuit Challenges Brevard County Ordinance Prohibiting People on Sex Offender Registry from Attending County Commission Meetings as Unconstitutional
January 5, 2022. Today, the Florida Justice Institute (FJI), in partnership with Brevard County attorney Jessica J. Travis of DefendBrevard.com, filed a lawsuit challenging a Brevard County ordinance that prohibits people on the sex offender registry from attending County Commission meetings at the County Government Center in Viera, Florida. The ordinance prohibits the Plaintiffs, and […]
West Palm Beach Repeals Ordinance Criminalizing Requests for Help, Advocacy Groups Jointly Dismiss Lawsuit
December 14, 2021 WEST PALM BEACH, FL – Advocacy groups and the City of West Palm Beach today jointly dismissed a federal lawsuit in response to a settlement agreement under which the City of West Palm Beach paid damages and repealed its ordinance prohibiting people from asking for donations in certain public spaces. Southern Legal […]
Settlement Reached with FDOC Requires Improved Treatment of People with Disabilities
November 10, 2021, TALLAHASSEE Disability Rights Florida, the state’s designated Protection and Advocacy system for individuals with disabilities, has reached a settlement with the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) requiring the FDOC to improve its treatment of incarcerated people with physical disabilities. The settlement resolves a lawsuit, brought with the assistance of attorneys from the […]
Judge rules Florida lawsuit can have all children in solitary as plaintiffs
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The federal judge presiding over the case of G.H. v. Tamayo, a statewide challenge to the Department of Juvenile Justice’s use of solitary confinement, has ruled that the case can proceed as a class action. This means that the 15- year- old plaintiffs, G.H. and R.L., will represent all children who are […]
FJI joins social justice organizations in letter opposing anti-camping ordinance
FJI joins with other organizations calling on the City of Miami Commission to vote against a proposed anti-camping ban that would result in more arrests of people experiencing homelessness. We call on the City to honor the promises it made to the Pottinger court that it would not revert to criminalization.
FJI provides assistance to public defenders to combat the criminalization of homelessness.
As part of its campaign to end the criminalization of homelessness, FJI has provided a letter to the public defenders of Florida and other criminal defense lawyers summarizing recent federal court decisions declaring panhandling ordinances unconstitutional. Although many of these ordinances have been invalidated, cities and counties around the state continue to arrest people—overwhelmingly poor […]
FJI, together with other organizations, submits request to Secretary Inch to withdraw proposed mail rule
The Florida Justice Institute, together with other civil rights organizations, have submitted a formal request to Secretary Inch to withdraw the proposed mail rule change to digitize all incoming physical mail. Here is a copy of the letter. “Abolishing physical mail will harm public safety. FDC reported in 2020 that 86% of people incarcerated in […]
Lawsuit on behalf of three West Palm Beach residents challenges a local ordinance that criminalizes requests for charity
West Palm Beach, Fla. – Southern Legal Counsel, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, the ACLU of Florida Palm Beach County Chapter, and Florida Justice Institute filed a federal lawsuit challenging a West Palm Beach ordinance that prohibits asking for donations in certain public spaces. The lawsuit, filed today in the U.S. District […]