Dozens from Orlando head to Tallahassee for 'Survivors Speak' event

Nearly 60 people from the Orlando-area boarded a bus Monday morning and drove to Tallahassee to urge lawmakers to make sure crime survivors get the support they need to recover.

Hundreds of crime survivors from across Florida traveled to the state’s capital this week for the second annual 'Survivors Speak' event. The event is hosted by the 'Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice,' which has a network of over 25,000 crime survivors across the country.

Organizers said Pulse Nightclub and Parkland High School survivors will be part of the group going to talk to Florida lawmakers.They will share their stories, honor their loved ones, and ask lawmakers to advocate for policy changes that focus on ending a cycle of crime. The group wants policies that prioritize prevention, rehabilitation and trauma recovery.

Members of the Orlando-based, non-profit organization 'Nuevo Sendero' traveled to Tallahassee for the event for the first time. The organization helps survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Clara Diaz with Nuevo Sendero said one of the challenges they often see is the time victims have to report a crime. “Sometimes they are under such pain or shock that they don’t even realize that they’re a victim so it takes time for them to realize I’m going to report that,” Diaz said.

A 2018 poll of Florida crime survivors found that they supported more spending on prevention and rehabilitation over longer prison sentences by a margin of three-to-one. Over 80 percent supported investing in education, the health of neighborhoods, job training and workforce development over more spending on prisons and jails. In terms of other safety priorities, 77 percent of crime survivors surveyed supported limits on using prison for people who may violate a technical rule of probation.

The group is expected to hold a press conference in the State Capitol on Tuesday at 11:00 a.m.