The PRIDE Re-Entry and Transition Programs directly support its first statutory mission, which is “to provide a joint effort between the department, the correctional work programs, and other vocational education, training and post-release job placement and help reduce recommitment.”
The Re-Entry Program prepares inmate workers for eventual release into the community by providing vocational training opportunities in correctional industry settings that function as closely as possible to independent profit-making enterprises. The cornerstone of the Re-Entry Program is on-the-job training (OJT) which takes place in PRIDE’s manufacturing facilities. Forty-one diverse operations provide training to inmates from twenty-nine correctional sites throughout the State. Inmate workers receive instruction in occupations ranging from Field Worker to Dental Lab Technician. All training conforms to Florida Department of Education Curriculum Framework standards and is made available to the inmate worker through on-the-job training, instruction, demonstration, and practical work experience. This instruction is provided to the inmate worker by industry supervisors who are considered “masters of their trades.” Upon successful completion of the curriculum, the worker is awarded a Certificate of Achievement from the Florida Department of Education or other certifying authority attesting to skills mastered. During 2009, approximately 77% of the inmate workforce received a training certificate for completion of one or more modules and 1,655 inmate workers completed specific programs.
The PRIDE Transition Program is the community piece of a comprehensive system. This structure provides a seamless transition from the inmate worker’s initial assignment to a PRIDE correctional industry work program to the culminating employment of the ex-offender in a local community business upon release. A team of Transition Specialists, based at the corporate office in St. Petersburg, FL, assist former PRIDE workers who have been released from incarceration in locating employment in the state of Florida. Any inmate assigned to PRIDE during his incarceration is eligible to apply for entry into the Transition Program. Preference is given to ex-offenders who left the PRIDE industry in good-standing, were assigned to PRIDE at the time of their release, worked for PRIDE for at least six months and earned a Certificate of Achievement. Ex-offenders may not be a registered sex-offender, cannot have detainers, must be eligible to work in the U.S. and be ready and available for employment.
The focus of the Transition Program is sustainable employment, meaning a full-time job, with benefits, and the potential for advancement. Program participants are assessed to determine their needs and are given intensive case management that assists them in surmounting barriers to successful community integration. At times, ex-offenders may require support services to enable them to find and keep a job. In those circumstances, the Transition Specialist may request PRIDE funds to provide for such items as emergency housing, clothing, transportation, work boots, or tools. These support service decisions are made with management approval on a case-by-case basis also enlisting the assistance of community service providers with whom PRIDE has established reciprocal relationships. Case management is provided for one year, in order to support the goals of job retention and reduced recidivism.
2009 saw an 18% increase in the number of transition program participants, from 550 to 650. Fifty-seven percent were placed in jobs with an average starting salary of $9.71. After six months, 71% were still employed.
In order to achieve these results, PRIDE has carefully cultivated a network of community and faith-based service providers throughout the State, thus leveraging its resources to provide effective service and post-release support to the maximum number of ex-offenders. The most extensive Community service relationships have been established in Broward, Hillsborough, Marion, and Pinellas counties through membership in the Broward Re-Entry Coalition, the Hillsborough Ex-Offender Re-Entry Network, the Ocala Faith and Justice Coalition, and the Pinellas Ex-Offender Re-Entry Coalition.
The Transition Team monitors the recidivism rate of ex-offenders, who were assigned to PRIDE industries for at least six months, for the immediate two-year period following their release. Recidivism is defined by the Department of Corrections as a return to prison for the commission of a new crime. For 2009, the recidivism rate of former PRIDE inmate workers was 14%.