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State DOC, Transitional Center Clash Over Potential Closing

April 27th, 2016 by flanews

A prisoner rehab and non profit in south Florida is on the verge of closing as the state’s department of corrections plans to use it, instead, for, for office space. As Matt Galka tells us, critics say it isn’t the right move for rehabbing prisoners, and are afraid the same could happen to similar facilities around the state.

The Broward Bridges of America facility in south Florida helps prisoners re-enter society and hopefully keep themselves out of trouble in the future.  It boasts a less than 10 percent recidivism rate for prisoners for those who graduate the program. It also provides drug abuse treatment. Jerry Goodner says it changed his life – he now runs a housing assistance program.

 

“I celebrated 13 years clean and sober in November, and I don’t know if I could say that if I had not been blessed with this program,” he said.

And it’s about to close.

The Department of Corrections told us in a statement that they’re going to use the facilities for office space because of zoning issues.

The DOC’s contract expires with the facility in mid-May.  Bridges of America president Lori Constantino-Brown believes they’re being singled out.

“We feel that the men in this program are worth it. We feel that there are too few programs like this for the thousands of men who are coming out and we feel that the department has made a mistake,” she said.

DOC promised they have a transition plan in place – but the plan is exempt from public record while litigation plays out between the state and Bridges of America. The plan includes work release, substance abuse treatment, and probation services.

But letters from inmates posted on the Keep the Bridge Open website all paint a similar picture – inmates are being told to pick a prison to go back to, and that there might not be any room in other transitional programs.

A similar facility located in Bradneton is set to have its contract expire in July. Bridges of America fears the Department will also close that facility later this year.

The FDOC told us in an email about the prisoner letters “A transition plan has been formulated which will ensure a smooth transition for work release and substance abuse treatment services. As we move forward through this process, no action taken by this Department will negatively affect the future of the inmates currently incarcerated at Broward Bridge. Opportunities will be made available for these individuals to continue in their journey to rehabilitation and successful transition into Florida’s communities.”

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