July 31, 2009
For More Information
Contact: Public Affairs Office
TALLAHASSEE -- Reporters are invited to the second anniversary and the 12th class graduation ceremony of the Undergoing Training and Obedience in Prison (UTOPIA) program at Taylor Correctional Institution Work Camp at 10:00 AM EST on August 7, 2009. Reporters will have an opportunity to interview and photograph/film inmates and program participants.
UTOPIA brings together rescue dogs from the Leon Community Animal Service Center with inmates and gives each a second chance to succeed. UTOPIA dogs are obedience trained by inmates at Taylor Work Camp, who were themselves trained by a professional dog trainer in the hopes that they may find gainful employment upon release from prison. The trained dogs are then released to the Animal Service Center for adoption. Upon graduation, each dog can sit, stay, come and walk to the left and slightly behind their owner. They are housebroken, crate trained, and have all their shots. They've been spayed or neutered and micro-chipped.
There are currently four inmate dog training programs in the Florida Department of Corrections. One each at Wakulla CI near Tallahassee, Taylor CI in Perry, FL, Gainesville CI and Gulf Forestry Camp in Wewahitchka, FL.
Currently one of every three inmates released from the Florida prison system returns to prison within three years. Through programs like UTOPIA, the Department of Corrections is focusing on teaching inmates viable job skills that will lead them to productive jobs and law-abiding lives upon release.
If you wish to attend the UTOPIA graduation ceremony, please contact Gretl Plessinger at the Department of Corrections’ Communications Office at (850) 488-0420.
Directions to Taylor Work Camp (at 8501 Hampton Springs Road Perry, Florida 32348-8747): Take HWY 27 South from Tallahassee to US 98 in Perry and take a right (West). Go approximately 3 1/2 miles to CR-356 (Hampton Springs Rd.) and take a left. Go approximately 6 miles and you will see Taylor Correctional Work Camp on your left.