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Leon County Sheriff's Office RISE Center helping people get back on their feet

Uplifting the formerly incarcerated
031522 RISE program lcso.bmp
Posted at 11:33 PM, Mar 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 23:33:35-04

LEON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — Service providers, local businesses, and the sheriff's office are all coming together to change lives.

"I was pregnant and at that point I was in the lowest part of my addiction, I was homeless, I really didn't know where to go."

Christina Wood is talking about when she first got to jail. Christina was on the brink of losing her kids and wasn't speaking to her parents. That's when the Leon County Sheriff's Office threw her a life preserver.

"I told her my story and she listened, and she cared, and she saw me as a person and not as an inmate, and that made a big difference for me."

Through the RISE Center program, the sheriff's office provides a one stop shop of wrap-around services to formerly incarcerated people. Those services range from education, healthcare, employment, temporary housing, and substance abuse counseling.

"This is a no judgment zone. We'll meet people where they are."

Larry Bourdeau is the Director of Re-Entry and Inmate Programs, and says by eliminating barriers, this can drive down recidivism and keep people out of trouble with the law.

"It's much more efficient, and much cheaper, and much more safe for our community when we target this on the front end."

When Christina got out, she went to rehab and is rebuilding her life…

"Me and my mom are best friends again, I'm speaking with my entire family."

And the sheriff's office has her back every step of the way…

"Courage is not not being afraid, it's moving forward even when you're afraid, and take it one day at a time and use every resource that's given to you."

The sheriff's office is looking for more local businesses to be a part of the program by offering jobs to formerly incarcerated individuals who qualify.

Since the RISE Center opened in July of 2021, they have helped over 170 people.