Bridges of America fighting to stay open in Broward

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The state’s prisons agency and a prisoner rehab program now are sparring in press releases.

The Florida Department of Corrections last week said it was ending its partnership with the Orlando-based Bridges of America nonprofit.

Bridges of America had a contract to run a transitional and substance abuse program in Broward County. The arrangement ends May 16, and the department told the organization it’s not renewing the deal, according to a letter.

On Monday, Corrections Secretary Julie Jones issued a statement saying she “looks forward to continuing our work with this vendor at our other facilities and in future endeavors.”

Currently, FDC operates six probation offices in a single building complex in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. Earlier this year, the Department was notified by members of the Lauderdale Lakes City Council that an ordinance would be proposed which will rezone the address at which our probation offices currently operate. This issue is one that the Department has faced time and time again in communities around our state.

To overcome this obstacle and continue to provide services which are a operational imperative for this agency, the Department plans to relocate a portion of our probation offices, which serve more than 5,600 offenders, to the state-owned building currently occupied by (the Bridges of America Broward program). A transition plan has been formulated which will ensure a smooth transition for work release, substance abuse treatment and probation 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.

Lori Costantino-Brown, President and CEO of Bridges of America, responded in kind.

Unfortunately, the Florida Department of Corrections wants to talk about office space and zoning, instead of the work we are doing to put men and women back to work and keep our community safe. The Broward Bridge is longest-running facility of its kind in the state and one of the most successful — the community will not allow it to be closed to make room for a few more offices. If the FDOC wants offices, they can find offices elsewhere.

The organization also started a website, KeepTheBridgeOpen.com.

(An earlier story is here.)

Staff Reports


2 comments

  • I know the truth

    April 25, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Opportunities will not be made available for these inmates because there are no more work release or treatment beds in the community. Secretary Jones is lying and this needs to be pointed out to everyone, including the governor.

  • Arthur Garner

    April 27, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Closing the Broward Bridge is not an issue. While there have been limited success stories the recidivism rate is still too high. No one complains when a full prison facility gets closed. This is only a work release center. There are two of them in Broward, both run by Bridges of America. Close it down and let the Department of Correction do what it wants with its property.

Comments are closed.


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