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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Timothy H. Cannon, Interim Secretary


Media Advisory
October 9, 2013
For More Information
Contact: Communications
(850) 488-0420

Faith and Character Based Residential Program for Women Opens at Hernando Correctional Institution

~In 2003, Florida was the first state to have an institution-wide, Faith and Character Based residential program. ~

Today Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews announced the addition of the Department’s newest Faith and Character Based residential institution, which will house over 460 female inmates.

"We are pleased to add Hernando as our first full female Faith and Character Based residential institution," said Secretary Crews. "We know these programs make a positive impact on inmates’ lives, helping to keep Florida’s recidivism rate low. The program is at no cost to taxpayers and is a win-win for all involved."

The Faith and Character Based Residential Program (FCBR) is an innovative effort to reduce recidivism and disciplinary infractions in correctional institutions by offering faith-and character-based programming in a positive environment to inmates committed to inner transformation.

"This past session, the Legislature provided support for faith based programs in our prisons, helping individuals begin repairing their lives and strengthening their character," said Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford. "I congratulate the Hernando Correctional Institution for the implementation of this important program."

This 12-36 month program offers inmates a variety of activities and classes (both religious and secular) focused on personal growth and character development. The religious preference of the inmate is not one of the eligibility criteria for inmate participation. Emphasis is placed on the goal and dedication to succeed upon reentry into the community; the program is completely voluntary and accommodates all custody levels of inmates.

"We are all excited about the establishment of this faith and character based prison for our female inmates and believe it will further advance our goals for reducing recidivism  and improve safety of our corrections officers and offenders, said Representative Dennis Baxley, Chairman of the Florida House Judiciary Committee.  "This could really change some outcomes."

The Department's FCBR program is currently located at 16 institutions and houses 6,500 inmates.

Florida’s recidivism rate has fallen from 33 percent to a historical low of 27.6 percent over a three year period. Programs such as the Faith and Character Based initiative contribute to this and reinforce the Department’s mission of ensuring public safety. This effort is accomplished through partnerships and community involvement across the state.

Assistant Secretary of Re-Entry, Chris Southerland, says volunteers drive the Faith and Character Based Programs.

"Last year our volunteers gave 332,005 hours of their time to provide assistance to our institutions," said Southerland. "Their selfless dedication helps to prepare our inmates and offenders with the tools and skills they need to be successful in their re-entry to the community. This is the same community where you go to church and the grocery store."

For more information, visit the Department’s Faith and Character Based Programs web site at http://www.dc.state.fl.us/oth/faith/index.html.

**Attached – Faith and Character Based Program Fact Sheet.

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As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs more than 25,000 members statewide, oversees more than 100,000 inmates and supervises nearly 146,000 offenders in the community.

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