Florida DOC Plan to Close Inmate Re-entry Program Threatens Public Safety, Private-Sector Jobs, Tax Dollars
At the end of March, the Florida Department of Corrections intends to close two of the most successful inmate re-entry programs in the state - the Broward County Bridge and the Bradenton Bridge.
These closures are bad public policy, jeopardizing public safety, eliminating private-sector jobs and costing taxpayers more.
Fixing a broken corrections system
*Every year in Florida, up to 40,000 inmates are released back into society at one minute past midnight on the day their sentences are up with $50, a bus ticket to a destination within 200 miles, the clothes on their backs and no personal identification.
*Four out of 10 have serious psychological problems that are controlled by medication. Yet, these inmates are released with a limited amount of medication and many don't have any way to get more when they run out.
*These released inmates have virtually no hope of successfully transitioning back into society and, without cost-saving transition programs available, too many will eventually return to expensive prison cells.
Bridges of America programs are proven successes
*Bridges programs are so successful that only 1 in 10 participants return to prison after three years. In contrast, among inmates who leave state prisons without re-entry services, 3 in 10 are back in prison in two years and 4 in 10 return in three years.
*for the 18 months prior to release from prison, inmates receive drug traeatment, education, life skills training, help with family reunification and jobs to ensure they have every opportunity to succeed when they leave prison
Ending these programs has dire consequences
*The decision to end this contract will abruptly put more than 300 inmates who are on the path to successful re-entry back in prison. It would cost Florida taxpayers an additional $1 million a year to send the 332 inmate slots served by the Bridges program in Bradenton and Broward back to the state's general prison population.
Closing these successful programs will eliminate more than 70 private-sector jobs at a time when Gov. Rick Scott is trying to put Floridians back to work.