October 19, 2009
For More Information
Contact: Public Affairs Office
Jacksonville – The Florida Department of Corrections, City of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office recently received $750,000 through a grant from the Department of Justice's Federal Second Chance Act. The funds will be used to assist former felony offenders as part of the Department’s statewide re-entry initiative.
Of the 119 applicants for the Second Chance Act funds, Florida is one of only 15 applicants who were awarded a grant.
Inmates who are within three years of release who were convicted in Duval County, and plan to live in Duval County are eligible for placement at Baker Correctional Institution, where educational, vocational, substance abuse treatment and transition/ life skills programs are offered.
Upon release from prison, offenders are delivered to the Jacksonville Re-entry Center (JREC) “Portal of Entry.” Operated by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in partnership with the Florida Department of Corrections, the JREC is the first stop after prison and assists offenders in making a successful transition back into the community by providing services including felony registration and assistance with housing, employment and healthcare needs.
The funding will allow the JREC to serve even more individuals. “Eventually, we want to see this “portal of entry” available to every offender coming back to Jacksonville. These monies will be put to good use to address the many needs of the 1500 offenders coming home to Jacksonville every year from state prisons,” said Sheriff John Rutherford. “Their success on the outside is the key to a safe community, lower jail populations, and the caseloads in our courtrooms,” he added.
“We are proud to receive this grant, but we know our hard work is just starting,” said Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil. “We expect this partnership to serve as a model for other areas of our state as a beginning to further public safety for our citizens.”
The majority (88 percent) of Florida inmates are eventually released back into Florida communities. Inmates and offenders who receive basic education, treatment, and community aftercare services are less likely to victimize, commit another crime, and return to prison or jail.
“We have made great strides in just a few short months in helping ex-offenders who want to make a real change in their lives, but this is just the beginning,” said Mayor Peyton. “This additional funding allows for the increased capacity of this outstanding program and in turn, is another building block in creating a stronger foundation for a safer community.”
With funding from Mayor Peyton’s anti-crime initiative, The Jacksonville Journey, the JREC opened in August 2009.