Gadsden County Inmates Celebrate New Start

Gadsden County Reentry Program
Posted at 6:00 PM, Oct 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-05 19:00:37-04

QUINCY, FL (WTXL) -- Four Gadsden County inmates celebrated the start of a new chapter in their lives, graduating from a program geared to give them a second chance.

The Gadsden County Sheriff's Office held a special graduation ceremony for these men and to introduce what's called a "re-entry portal."

This voluntary program is nothing new to Gadsden County but now the sheriff's office is taking a different approach, including GED training for inmates to get them more prepared for life outside jail.

The men completed horticultural and landscaping classes offered through Florida A&M University.

They're now certified in the "Green Industries Best Management Practices Program" which is recognized by employers in the region.

The re-entry portal director says inmates are going through the new portal system which combines faith and skills to give them the best chance at finding work once they finish their sentences.

"Things like heavy equipment, painting -- other skills that, in six months, you could actually get a certification and find yourself a skillset that you could earn a decent living on," said Ed Dixon, the re-entry portal director for the program.

The re-entry program has seen several graduates go on to find work locally including one man we talked to.

He's now working for the county's public works department, operating heavy machinery.

He says the program was exactly what he needed to get his life back.

Re-entry graduate Kennedy Jackson said, "When you get that second chance -- anything that your mind can perceive, you can achieve it. All you have to do is have a well-made up mind and go after it. Perseverance -- don't give up, and don't turn back."

Sheriff Morris Young says the county has a high incarceration rate and one goal is to help men and women turn their lives around through programs like this one.