Florida offenders have an opportunity to attend college for free

Florida Department of Corrections works with Tallahassee Community College to help Florida offenders transition into the workforce. Photo courtesy: @FL_Corrections on Twitter

Tallahassee Community College has partnered with the Florida Department of Corrections to provide assistance to offenders who have hopes of successfully transitioning into the workforce.

24 transitioning offenders began their matriculation through an eight-week course on Jan. 29 that will provide them with a commercial driver’s license, a nationally recognized industry credential.

These individuals are still serving their sentences and will be transported by FDOC from their facility to TCC, where the class will be held. Inmates were selected by the FDOC based on their time served, behavior and career interest.

After earning their CDL through TCC’s Workforce Development Division, they will be in alignment with a position for immediate employment once they have completed their sentence.

“The goal is for individuals to transition successfully,” said Kimberly A. Moore, Vice President for Workforce Innovation and FAMU Trustee. “We want participants to obtain promotions, not only be employed but obtain a promotion.”

American correctional facilities are known for having the highest relapse rates due to offenders’ educational illiteracy, lack of vocational job skills, criminal history or a combination of any of these aspects.

Offenders frequently speak out on the rejection they are faced with when they enter society, as well as the lack of assistance provided when transitioning back into civilian life.

The American criminal justice system holds close to 2.3 million offenders amongst state prisons, federal prisons, juvenile correctional facilities, local jails, immigration dentation facilitates, and Indian country jails.

According to VOX, 76% of all inmates end up back in jail within 5 years.

Correctional education has the potential to improve inmates’ outcomes after being released. Inmates who participate in educational programs are 43% less likely to return to prison than those who do not. Participants also improve their chances of obtaining employment.

TCC is the first to establish such a life-changing initiative in the state of Florida. So far, the college has issued over 1,000 credentials across five different correctional facilities and one release center throughout Florida.

This community college also provides other workforce programs for inmates, such as electrical, masonry, culinary, carpentry, HVAC and preparation for the GED.

They are working to add welding and machinery to their transitional programs this year.

For more information on the FDOC program, contact the Workforce Development Division at 850-201-8760 or visit tcc.fl.edu/workforce-development.