As the U.S. Conference of Mayors discussed prisoner re-entry challenges at its convention in Miami last weekend, the Miami Herald reviewed what is and is not happening in Florida. Vicki Lukis, who served time in federal prison for mail fraud and now serves on the state Reentry Advisory Council, said efforts to get started on rehabilitation are hurt by tight budgets. Available money, she said, goes toward building prisons. About one third of more than 11,000 Florida inmates released annually are back in prison after three years.
Wayne Rawlings, a facilitator with the Miami-Dade Reentry Task Force, said many ex-felons often have no job, no place to live and few options: “For folks that have no criminal record to find a job at a living wage today is difficult. For those with a record, it’s impossible.” Miami-Dade County, which releases more than 10,000 people from jail each month, may create an educational center in a new jail, where inmates could get training for GED and vocational skills. Broward County has cobbled together a group of 30 to 40 private and governmental agencies called the Broward Re-Entry Coalition. Chairman Thomas Lanahan said members are going to prisons, jails and even federal facilities in Miami to let inmates know what services are available. “The inmates don’t know the resources that are available to them. They end up wandering around aimlessly,” he said.