September 10, 2014
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Pinellas County, Fla. – The U.S. Department of Justice awarded the Department of Corrections a $750,000 grant to help fund a pilot program called Pinellas SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time-Bound) Re-entry Probation to be launched in Pinellas County. The Department worked with the Chief Judge, the State Attorney and the Public Defender of the Sixth Judicial Circuit-Pinellas County, as well as the Pinellas County Sheriff to collaborate with the project’s development.
The grant provides funding for the next two years to hire and train two new correctional probation senior officers to pilot Pinellas SMART Re-Entry Probation. The program will be implemented in two of the eight felony probation offices in Pinellas County, serving those areas with the highest concentration of serious offenders.
“This is a great example of working with local law officials to ensure the safety of Florida families and providing the opportunity for our inmates to have a successful transition back into their community and remain crime free,” Secretary Michael Crews said.
Pinellas SMART Re-Entry Probation seeks to strengthen the Department’s mission of public safety by targeting high-risk offenders sentenced in the Pinellas Violation of Probation Court Division. In the program, the officers plan to use evidence-based strategies and expand the use of cognitive behavioral programs to lower the number of unsuccessful probation losses in the area by 30 percent. The project also calls for the formation of a policy committee to propose details for a new Alternative Sanctions Program (ASP) that will provide the court with an administrative diversion option to handle specified probation violators. This program aims to help positive offender outcomes by linking inmates to substance abuse, mentoring and recovery support resources, and offering vital opportunities for successful completion of probation.
As Florida's largest state agency, the Department of Corrections employs more than 21,000 members statewide, incarcerates more than 100,000 inmates and supervises nearly 146,000 offenders in the community.