Darren Soto “troubled” by Broward program shutdown

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State Sen. Darren Soto is adding his name to the growing list of state lawmakers objecting to the closing of a prisoner re-entry program in Broward County.

Soto, an Orlando Democrat, wrote Friday to Corrections Secretary Julie Jones to say he was “troubled by this decision” because he is a “strong proponent of these types of facilities and programs.”

“I believe that our best chance to reduce recidivism and enhance public safety is to properly rehabilitate and prepare inmates for when they are released back into their communities following their sentences,” Soto wrote.

“I hope you will agree that the decision to close down such a facility is one worth discussing and vetting with key stakeholders before abruptly doing so,” he added, asking Jones to “seek possible options to continue this program.”

“I would also ask that you please provide our office with the rationale for this sudden change of direction, since the Legislature should be consulted and kept informed as to (such) major decisions,” he wrote.

Soto joins other Republican and Democratic legislators objecting to the Department of Corrections’ decision to stop a Broward County partnership with the Orlando-based Bridges of America nonprofit.

The organization provided “transitional counseling” and drug treatment in Lauderdale Lakes to prisoners on work release who needed help returning to society.

The department has announced it was letting the Broward contract with Bridges of America end on the May 16 end date. It’s not renewing it. The department said it needed the program’s space for more DOC employee offices.

House Republican Leader Dana Young has sent a similar letter, as have state Reps. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican; Rene “Coach P” Plascencia, an Orlando Republican; Randolph Bracy, an Orlando Democrat; and Vic Torres, another Orlando Democrat.

Jones, in a statement last week, said current enrollees would not be “negatively affect(ed).” She said “opportunities will be made available for these individuals to continue in their journey to rehabilitation and successful transition into Florida’s communities.” Jones did not offer details.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]


3 comments

  • Pastor Miguel Irizarry

    May 2, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Good morning I believe in change I believe that with the right coplngs skill they can change. And for this reason we must keep Browars bridges of America open . As a coornator for central Florida for Prison Fellowship we believe they can truly change and as a Chaplain& Pastor we believed in the Bridges of America that they can provided the coplngs skill this residents need so they can function in society ones again and only the bridges can provide . so by closing down Browar facility you are closing down on change and that’s what Bridges of America can provided.

  • Gary Marma

    May 2, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Good news! Thank you

  • Gary

    May 2, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    Media Advisory: May 2, 2016
    PR Contact: Kevin Cate, 813.469.7189
    Press Conference on FDOC Re-Entry Shut Downs:
    Rally to Save Women’s Inmate Re-Entry Facility in Bradenton
    Bradenton, FL— Former inmates, family members, Rep. Darryl Rouson, County Commissioner Robin Sue DiSabatino, Bridges for America, and allies will hold a press conference to try to save the Bradenton Bridge, an all-female inmate transitional facility founded in 2005.
    When: TOMORROW, May 3, 2016 at 10:30AM
    Where: Bradenton Bridge, 2104 63rd Avenue, Bradenton, Florida 34203

Comments are closed.


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