Pensacola, Florida
Friday October 31st 2014

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While reviewing our year in stories for this issue, we noticed a few recurring topics that kept popping up. Here are the issues and overachieving themes we identified and reported on repeatedly throughout the year.

Arrested Development
We jail a lot of people in America, but whether we’re running successful and civil rights infraction-free correctional facilities is without a doubt questionable. That’s true of many places in the U.S., including right here in Escambia County. Most everyone acknowledges there is work to do when it comes to preventing people—particularly youth—from entering prison in the first place, improving conditions in prisons and jails, and devising stronger programs for transitioning ex-convicts back into workforce and society, all of which are topics the IN covered in 2013. Happily, we were able to end coverage on a slightly positive note, naming Judge Casey Rogers of the Northern Judicial District of Florida a winner in 2013, in part for her work with Re-entry Alliance Pensacola (REAP).

How to Kill the Monster that Eats Children: Shutting Down Prison Pipeline (January 24)
The Big House and the Bigger Picture: The Cost of Escambia’s Justice System (May 9)
We Told You So: Feds Find Long Standing Abuse in County Jail (May 30)
No Blinking: Escambia County to Assume Jail Operations (June 27)
Second Chances for Ex-cons: The Triumphs and Challenges of Re-entry (September 12)
Get Out of Jail Free: How to Commit Crime While in County’s Care (September 5)
Winners & Losers 2013 (December 12)

Homeless Hardships
Conditions for the homeless was the topic of multiple news items this year, as the city passed several ordinances governing how public facilities are used that had the most impact on homeless individuals. The ordinances prohibit sleeping outside on public property and activities such as shaving, washing clothing, or preparing food in public restrooms. Another ordinance targeted public urination and defecation, and a fourth addressed “aggressive solicitation, begging or panhandling.” Non-profits such as Sean’s Outpost are finding creative ways to provide food, shelter, and other services for homeless in the community. Due to the limited number of beds and services available locally for the homeless, 2014 will likely see additional reporting on efforts to improve services for Pensacola’s homeless population.

Buzz: Bummin’ Under the Bridge (April 18)
Cleaning Out the Campground: Is Pensacola Pushing Out Homeless? (May 15)
Outtakes: Mean Streets of Pensacola (May 16)

Buzz: Homeless Ordinances Approved (May 30)
Satoshi Forest: Local Group Sets Up Homeless Outpost (November 14)

Mother Earth
Being on the Gulf Coast, the third anniversary of the BP oil spill naturally resulted in a few environmental stories. The allocation of Natural Resources Damage Assessment funds to Escambia County, and the establishment of the county’s RESTORE Act Advisory Committee were also significant developments. And then there was our annual Green Issue in March. Discussions about drilling, logging, and fish hatcheries were also in the air, and if rumblings of flesh-eating bacteria in tar balls, proposed military training in Blackwater River State Forest, and the troubling number of sewage spills we’ve had locally are any indication, 2014 is going to be a busy year for environmental reporting as well.

Saving Blackwater, Round Two: Fending Off Drilling in the Forest (March 7)
Lowball Logjam: Are There Riches in the River? (March 21)
Restoration Education: Three Years After the BP Oil Spill (April 25)
Buzz: Oil Spill Restoration Hits Northwest Florida (May 9)
The Gulf Coast’s Big Plan: Drawing Up the RESTOREation Blueprint (June 19)
Buzz: Tar Ball Brigade (June 20)
Buzz: Operation Toxic Gulf Update, (August 8)
Buzz: Fishery Tales (September 26)