November 3, 2010
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Contact: Public Affairs Office
Indiantown - Soon-to-be graduates of the Construction Project Coordinator Program listened to words of encouragement during commencement exercises at Martin Correctional Institution. These select 14 inmates were recognized for taking a major step toward turning their lives around upon their release from incarceration. The graduates represented ages up to 35 and all walks of life. Each one originally sentenced for a non-violent crime and serving seven years or less in prison.
After stepping up to the stage to receive their Construction Project Coordinator Program Vocational Certificate, each inmate earned a round of applause in recognition of their accomplishment. These men had previously been handicapped by not having vocational credentials. Now that they do, each one will have a better chance of finding and keeping a job.
From their first days in Florida prisons, inmates are urged to improve themselves in preparation for the day they are released. Time spent behind the bars of a state prison offers some inmates the opportunity to turn their lives around. By taking classes for diplomas and acquiring skills in honest trades, learning how to get along with other people and setting goals to change their ways, inmates increase the chance of success outside.
“When an inmate succeeds,” says Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Walter McNeil, “society succeeds. Inmates with education and skills are less likely to commit crimes. This equates to greater public safety. With a diploma and job skills, released inmates are more likely to have jobs and stable families, live law-abiding lives and pay taxes.”
McNeil points out that one-third of Florida’s inmates can be expected to return to prison within three years and that it costs about $20,000 a year to keep one prisoner locked up.
“Giving inmates a better chance at avoiding more prison time is definitely a win-win proposition, for taxpayers, citizens and the inmates.”