For Immediate Release
November 23, 1999
For More Information
Contact: Public Affairs Office
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida Department of Corrections has received a $300,000 federal grant to create an innovative program to strengthen family ties and increase literacy among inmates.
"Reading Family Ties - Face to Face" is a program designed to keep incarcerated mothers in touch with their children. The program allows mothers to read a storybook with their children via interactive sight and sound teleconferencing. Mothers will also be taught remedial reading and writing skills in a weekly communication class.
The mothers will use teleconferencing monitors to read storybooks to their children, who will follow in the same book at a location in Miami. The non-profit group Alliance for Media Arts in Miami will provide two offices for the children to use during the one-hour reading sessions. The program will target the children of indigent inmate families who cannot afford to travel long distances to prisons to visit their mothers.
200 inmates at Hernando Correctional Institution in Brooksville and Lowell Correctional Institution-Women's Unit in Marion County will participate in the program. DOC is currently identifying those who are potential participants and the program is scheduled to be in operation by Feb. 1.
Families with Loved Ones in Prison (FLIP) and the Florida Prison Network are two DOC non-profit agency partners that will assist in transporting children to the reading sites and publicizing the program.
State Rep. Allen Trovillion (District 36), chairman of the House Corrections Committee, said the program would ease the transition of female offenders back into society. "This program will enhance family unity by allowing mothers to return to a more stable environment upon their release," he said. "It will also increase inmate literacy and reduce recidivism."
The U.S. Department of Commerce Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program funded the grant, which will be combined with $385,734 in matching funds from DOC and the non-profit profit agency partners. DOC is one of 43 recipients from a pool of 700 applicants to be awarded the grant.