New reentry center in Florida aims to reduce recidivism

Florida’s prison system recently finished building a reentry center in Gadsden County to help inmates effectively reenter the community after they leave prison. Housed inside the prison walls, the reentry center will provide education and training programs during the last three years of an inmate’s sentence.  Inmates will also receive substance abuse counseling and participate in family reunification programs. The center includes classrooms for adult education, a computer laboratory, vocation labs and other facilities designed to help inmates effectively reintegrate into the community once their prison sentences end.

Florida has two other reentry centers waiting to open in Baker and Miami-Dade Counties while the State Senate creates a budget plan for the Department of Corrections. The DOC wants to open the reentry center in Gadsden first because the facility is next door to the state’s law-enforcement training academy, which will provide administrative support. Additionally, the academy will monitor the center and apply what it learns about rehabilitation to the Baker and Miami-Dade centers.

With approximately 34,000 prisoners released from Florida’s prisons every year, Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews says preparing them for release is crucial. By equipping inmates with the knowledge and resources they need to effectively transition back into the community, cognitive-based reentry programs like the ones created by BI Incorporated can help reduce recidivism rates and save taxpayers money. Recidivism rates in Florida are down to 27.6 percent from 33 percent in 2003. According to the DOC, for every one percent decrease in recidivism rates, taxpayers save approximately $19 million.