August 4, 2015
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Published July 31, 2015
By: Matthew Brown
To view the story online, visit: http://www.srpressgazette.com/community/schools/local-inmates-bring-artistic-talents-to-area-schools-photos-1.498725.
When area schools are not in session, Officer James Priddy with the Santa Rosa County Correctional Institution along with several inmates are sharing their artistic talents with those schools, located throughout the county.
S.S. Dixon Primary School administrative officials, Principal Nancy Haupt and Assistant Principal Dan Balsavich, are proud and thankful for what the painting program has accomplished at their school.
“Officer Priddy and his crew have just been phenomenal,” Haupt said. “They are very nice people to work with and very talented.”
On average, Priddy will take a group of four to five non-violent inmates to each school project. These inmates, who typically have some form of artistic background, are about to be released from the correctional facility.
In some cases, this program has also led to a new creative outlet for the participating inmates, Priddy said.
“Some can draw but they have never painted and they will find a new talent,” he said.
School’s have also shown their appreciation for Priddy and inmate’s work by presenting the department with multiple plauqes and certificates of recognition for their work. The students have also written letters to Officer Priddy also expressing their gratitude.
In addition to taking part in the program, Priddy said the inmates also appreciate knowing the impact of their work.
“They also like to hear the reports the comeback (where) the kids are smiling when they come in (school),” Priddy said. “This gives (the inmates) a chance to give back to the community. They like hearing the feedback, it kind of boosts their ego. At least someone cares about what they do.”
As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs more than 22,000 members statewide, incarcerates more than 100,000 inmates and supervises nearly 140,000 offenders in the community.