October 15, 2010
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Contact: Public Affairs Office
The Florida Department of Corrections has been awarded a $740,000 federal grant to establish a technology program to train inmates nearing release to become certified in Photovoltaic System (solar panel) installation. The grant was awarded by the Department of Justice as part of the Second Chance Act Technology Careers Training Demonstration Projects for Incarcerated Adults.
The Department’s Teaching and Enhancing Careers in High technology (TECH) program will be established at Sago Palm Work Camp in Palm Beach county, which recently became the third prison dedicated to preparing soon-to-be released inmates for their successful re-entry into society. Re-entry facilities house inmates with three years or less on their sentences who are returning to specific counties, and ramp up their educational, vocational and treatment classes so they’ll be better prepared to find employment and keep it upon release.
“A sober, educated, trained inmate is less likely to victimize another citizen, and less likely to return to prison at the public’s expense,” said Corrections Secretary Walter McNeil. “With 88% of our 102,000 inmates eventually returning to our communities, re-entry facilities like Sago Palm can have a significant, positive effect on public safety.”
The grant funds will be used to provide remedial academic tutoring; a nine month, 1,200 hour Electrical Technology Career and Technical Education component; on-the-job training; peer mentoring; case management; and post-release career assistance. The Department will partner with a fully licensed and accredited technical center in the Palm Beach area to provide Solar PV System training, leading to inmates earning a North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners certificate prior to release. Training will include a mobile training unit that houses a PV demonstration module so inmates can gain hands-on experience.
The Sago Palm Re-Entry Center already provides academic classes; vocational programs in PC Support; and canine training -- where inmates train service dogs; betterment, transition and counseling programs; and a faith and character-based component.
The inmates incarcerated at Sago Palm will all be returning to Palm Beach county, where they lived prior to their imprisonment. The Department has partnered with the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) in their efforts to provide post-release assistance, and will deliver each inmate upon release to the Palm Beach County re-entry facility for felony registration and assistance with transition issues.
Just last month, the CJC received a $750,000 Second Chance Act grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to help implement their post-release Portal of Entry.