The Leon County Sheriff’s Office opened two new facilities this week, both geared toward helping inmates prepare for life after incarceration.
"Every year there are some 2,000 persons that return to our community from our state prison system or our federal prison system," explains Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil. "And oftentimes they come unequipped to be back in our society. They don’t have job skills, they lack housing, they have treatment issues that have gone unaddressed."
Sheriff Walt McNeil believes the new facilities and programs will better the chance of inmates reentering the community with the necessary skills to succeed.
"Recent studies have shown that if we are successful putting those self-help programs in place that we would be successful in reducing our recidivism rate by something of the magnitude of 43%," says McNeil.
The recidivism rate in Leon County is around 45%. Michael Rody is a soon-to-be released inmate. He’s currently taking culinary and entrepreneurial classes.
"I can’t say enough about how much this actually means," opened Rody. "Because a lot of time when you come into a place like this it’s really hard to get back out and stay out."
The Housing Dorms and Educational Center were paid for by inmates through the county’s Inmate Welfare Fund. It’s a trust that holds the money received from inmate purchases, telephone calls or fines.