University of Florida Extension helps inmates prepare for life after prison
Studies have shown that getting a job after being released from prison can help prevent recidivism. But getting hired is no easy task for many former inmates, who may lack professional skills and encounter employers who are reluctant to hire someone with a criminal record.
To help prepare inmates for life after prison, University of Florida Extension helped set up horticulture and culinary programs at the Federal Correctional Complex in Sumter County. Participants can earn credentials that help them secure well-paying jobs and learn about resume writing and interview techniques.
In the nine years that the programs have operated, only 5% of participants have returned to prison. For comparison, the national recidivism rate for federal inmates is 49%.
One student immediately landed a $19-an-hour landscaping job in Minnesota. Another is now in charge of all food ordering and menu planning as the lead cook at the kitchen of a rescue mission in South Dakota.
There also are benefits to taxpayers. It costs about $37,000 a year to house a federal inmate. University of Florida Extension professionals estimate their programs at FCC Coleman have so far saved $8 million in housing costs.