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Florida Dept. of Corrections, offender re-entry center reach agreement

May 12, 2016
by Tom Valentino, Senior Editor
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The Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) announced on Wednesday it has reached a resolution with Bridges of America in a dispute over the planned closure of the not-for-profit’s Broward County facility. While the deal allows for Bridges to continue its re-entry programming in the county, ultimately it is a reduction in capacity for the organization.

Under terms of the agreement:

  • Effective Thursday, all inmates participating in re-entry programming at the Bridges facility in Broward County will be placed in similar facilities elsewhere in the state.
  • All future male inmates who qualify for transition and substance abuse services in Broward County will be served at Bridges’ Turning Point Community Release Center in Pompano Beach, Florida. Turning Point has only 150 beds compared with the 172 total spaces being lost at the Broward Bridge.
  • Turning Point will add up to 112 transition beds and 38 work release beds to accommodate inmates who previously would have been in programming at the Broward Bridge facility.

The agreement covers two years with up to three possible one-year renewals. The DOC will use the Broward Bridge space for other purposes. It previously announced intentions to use the space for probation and parole offices and other department functions.

The Bradenton Bridge, a women’s transition and community release center which serves 120 inmates, will remain open, per the terms of a new two-year contract signed by the Department of Corrections and Bridges.

“Throughout this entire process, our focus has been to ensure there was no interruption in services,” Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones said in a statement. “I am pleased that we were able to reach an agreement that will best serve those re-entering society. … The Department’s agreement with Bridges allows our years of good work to continue with an increased focus on performance metrics and data-driven strategies that ensure success for those re-entering Florida’s communities.”

A message left for Bridges of America representatives was not immediately returned.

Tom Valentino is Senior Editor for Behavioral Healthcare.

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