On February 7, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis visited Operation New Hope for the second time in just over 6 months. At the planned news conference, he announced the creation a new organization to help increase investment in career readiness training and community re-entry programs for inmates.
“Reducing recidivism, expanding career readiness training and re-entry programs are a vital component of the public safety mission of the Florida Department of Corrections,” said Governor DeSantis. “We have to do more to get inmates ready for release – ready to be employees and to be productive members of our communities. The Florida Foundation for Correctional Excellence will bring public and private sector partners together to take our efforts to the next level.”
DeSantis said the private sector needs to have “skin in the game” for the programs to grow. “If (companies) have a need for something and they are willing to come in, provide time, money and resources to be able to equip these inmates with these skills, that could be something that can have an immediate impact when the inmate gets out of prison,” the governor said.
Also in attendance at the press conference was Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch. “Today’s announcement is an exciting one – not only for FDC and the impacts it will have on our rehabilitative efforts – but exciting for Florida,” said Sec. Inch. “The majority of the approximately 95,000 inmates in custody will complete their sentences and will become returning citizens; in fact, 85% of the current inmate population will be released. FDC cannot do this alone. Local communities, businesses, social services providers, faith and volunteer organizations, educational providers and institutions and local governments, must be active partners in this process.”
“We are so thankful for the time and attention that Governor DeSantis and Department of Corrections Secretary Inch are giving to the important issue of re-entry,” said Operation New Hope Founder and CEO Kevin Gay. “Operation New Hope is poised and ready to expand our Ready4Work program at additional locations around the state to meet the reentry needs of Florida.”
In July 2019, Operation New Hope hosted a tour and roundtable discussion regarding jobs, the economy, and reentry that was attended by Vice President Mike Pence, Ivanka Trump, and Governor Ron DeSantis. Impressed by our Ready4Work program, Vice President Pence remarked that ours is a “model program not only in Florida but for the United States.” Governor DeSantis added, “We need to look to what the Federal government did with the prison reform with regards to reentry. We have more work at the state level to continue to pursue success.”