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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Julie L. Jones

Florida Department of Corrections
Julie L. Jones, Secretary

For Immediate Release
September 23, 2002
For More Information
Contact: Public Affairs Office
(850) 488-0420

Department of Corrections Program
Strengthens Family Ties

Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Moore said today "Reading Family Ties-Face to Face" is a win-win program for incarcerated mothers, their children, and the department.

The program, which began in February 2000, allows incarcerated mothers in Lowell and Hernando Correctional Institutions to have weekly visits with their children using live video transmitted via the Internet. Moore said he believes the program improves mothers' conduct during incarceration, will increase the number of mothers caring for their children upon release, and will improve the behaviors of the children.

"Currently, there are nearly 4,600 women incarcerated in Florida prisons," Moore said. "We estimate that approximately two-thirds of these women are mothers. With this program, we hope to strengthen the bond between mothers and their children, and through weekly family development classes, improve their communication and parenting skills."

Moore said the program is an outstanding example of the benefits of public/private partnerships. The children go to a participating "community site" for the hour-long video visit. Currently these sites are located at Abe Brown Ministries in Tampa, Holy Redeemer Church in Miami, and Faith Temple Believers Church in Pensacola. The incarcerated mother goes to a small office within the prison that is equipped with a computer, camera and speakerphone. An Internet connection then is made with the community site.

Moore said anyone who is not in disciplinary confinement can participate in the program. Offenders are always under direct supervision during the visits, he said.

"This program allows children to visit with their mothers without having to travel long distances to prison facilities. In addition, many caretakers and mothers are uncomfortable with the children being exposed to razor wire, guard towers, and possible pat-down searches that are inherent in visits to prison compounds," Moore said. "With the video visits, these issues are extracted."

Moore will be at Abe Brown Ministries in Tampa on September 23 to observe a video visit.

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