Since eighty-eight percent of all state inmates will eventually be released into society, it makes sense for us to concentrate on educating them and providing them an opportunity to learn a trade and to be treated for their substance abuse problems. To that end, we have made tremendous progress this year. GED rates are climbing, and we expanded our programs to our work camps so that inmate teaching assistants are helping give back by preparing other inmates for the GED tests.
In August 2009, we dedicated our second re-entry facility, Baker Correctional Institution in Sanderson, which joins Demilly Correctional Institution in Polk County as the only facilities in the state completely dedicated to our unique reentry mission. In addition to academics, staff at these facilities are schooling soon-to-be released inmates in vocations such as plumbing, electrical and carpentry/woodworking, so they will have hands-on experience upon release and when they start looking for work.
Just two months after the opening of Baker CI, and despite our challenging economy, our Department, along with the City of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, received a $750,000 federal grant from the Federal Second Chance Act to be used to further our re-entry efforts.
We also joined forces with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by entering into a three-year agreement to identify military veterans being released from prison and those on community supervision. With that information, the VA is assisting eligible inmates with their mental health, medical, substance abuse, and housing needs.
In Community Corrections, our probation officers have partnered with local law enforcement and stepped up our unannounced sweeps of offenders' homes. As a result, law enforcement officers have confiscated everything from a half a gallon of a date rape drug to automatic weapons, large sums of cash and drugs, and related paraphernalia. These sweeps are a good example of our commitment to public safety outside the prison walls, and through them a number of offenders who have proven they have no intention of changing their ways have been removed from the streets.
I invite you to turn the page for more details about all we have accomplished in the last year. If you are looking for additional statistics about our agency, please go to www.dc.state.fl.us/ pub/annual/0910/stats/toc.html for complete tables and graphs.
“You Never Walk Alone”