The mission of the Corrections Foundation is to support the programs, personnel and services of the Department of Corrections through grants, contributions and community partnerships in the interest of public safety. In FY0809, the Corrections Foundation assisted 417 employees with $445,000 in assistance checks for family emergencies, house fires, floods and out-of-town travel due to death or illness. The Foundation also organized the collection and mailing of numerous packages to our employees who are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas of unrest.
The Department of Corrections established a Re-Entry Advisory Council of professionals and victim advocates throughout the state. Together the Council and the Department have built valuable partnerships with key stakeholders, including county re-entry coalitions, faith-based organizations, community-based service providers, law enforcement and various governmental entities that provide re-entry programs and services.
Prison Industries and Diversified Enterprises (PRIDE) plays a vital role in the department's re-entry effort providing inmates with hands-on job training and instilling in them a solid work ethic. In addition, PRIDE inmates are required to set aside a percentage of their earnings for victim restitution. Each year, PRIDE trains and employs from 3,000 to 4,000 inmates at 31 institutions in 41 vocational programs. The programs range from building modular office furniture to manufacturing eyeglasses for prescription use.
Partnering with PRIDE assists us in reducing recidivism by giving inmates additional skills and knowledge before they re-enter society. By teaching inmates specific job skills and giving them on-the-job training, PRIDE and the Department are committed to working together to help inmates find employment and stay out of prison.
This past year, 62% of PRIDE-trained inmates were placed in relevant jobs upon release from prison. Only 14% of PRIDE’s former workers returned to prison.
The Department began its first inmate dog training program (UTOPIA) at Taylor Correctional Institution in July 2008, and since then four more have been implemented at Wakulla CI (Paws in Prison), Gulf CI (DAWGS), Gainesville CI (Paws on Parole) and Sago Palm Work Camp in Pahokee (Prison Pup Program). Except for the puppy program, all dogs involved are trained for eight weeks at prisons in Florida by state inmates, who were trained by a professional dog trainer, in the hopes that they may find gainful employment in animal services when released from prison. These inmate vocational programs allow inmates to earn vocational certificates in dog grooming and training while simultaneously preparing puppies to assist persons with disabilities or training dogs to be more adoptable.
You can go online at our website www.dc.state.fl.us and scroll down until you see on the left a box that says “Will you adopt me?” and view all dogs currently available for adoption.
Department's Dog Programs Take a Bite out of Time and Provide Vocational Skills
Community Corrections probation officers partner with local police and sheriffs, state attorneys, the U.S. Marshal Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation when they perform sweeps at offenders’ homes. These sweeps have netted large numbers of weapons including rifles, handguns, swords and knives; large amounts of drugs and cash and have resulted in offenders' arrests. Officers also examine the contents of sex offenders’ computers for pornography during these sweeps.
Pictured Left: Marijuana plant found growing in a closet at an offender's house during a sweep.
Pictured Right: Cash and drugs found at an offender's house.
Job and Resource Fairs
Other Community Corrections partnerships focus on our re-entry goals. Every region has a detailed community resource directory listing the many partners probation officers refer their offenders to for assistance. The general areas where assistance is provided include: employment, social services, counseling, educational and vocational, health services, transportation, housing and consumer services. Community Corrections staff has diligently developed these resources to better assist offenders in their transition to the “real world.” From showing offenders how to write a resume to how to prepare for a job interview to how to apply for a job online, Community Corrections staff is going above and beyond in assisting their offenders.
On Friday, December 12, 2008, Panama City and Port St. Joe Probation & Parole Offices 140, 144 & 142 joined forces to provide the 1st Job /Services Fair for offenders in Bay and Gulf Counties. This event assisted offenders in locating employment and educated them to a variety of community based services that will assist them and their family members. The Fair was held from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. with nine vendors participating, including the Workforce Center, Gulf Coast Community College Passport Program, Social Security Administration, Haney Vocational Center, Eastern Shipbuilders, the Census Bureau, CARE, Rescue Mission/Catholic Services, and Cottage House. The participants were able to answer offenders’ questions about jobs, help complete applications, and assist offenders and their family members with securing social security cards, clothing and other needed services.
With 260 offenders participating, the Fair was considered a huge success, with many participants lining up at 8 am, even though the Fair wasn’t scheduled to open until 10 am.
Plans for future events will incorporate lessons learned and new service contacts made.
Panama City/Port St. Joe Probation and Parole Resource/Job Fair attendees lined up at 8 a.m.,
even though the Fair didn't begin until 10 a.m..