Tony – One Reentry Story
By: Beverly Roberts, Transition Specialist, Prison Rehabilitative Industries & Diversified Enterprises, PRIDE
At the age of 28, Tony was sentenced to serve a three year term to the Florida Department of Corrections. Upon release he recommitted within two months. This time, Tony was assigned to a PRIDE training industry. During the nine years with PRIDE, Tony learned for the first time in his life how to apply for a job, how to report to work, how to punch a time clock, how to work with peers and how to take instruction from Management. Plus, he gained a skill … furniture manufacturing and upholstery.
When Tony was preparing for his release he knew he had an opportunity to begin again – this time with his new employability skills gained through his nine years working in PRIDE and with the support of the PRIDE Transition Program. Through his Release Officer, Tony became a participant in the PRIDE Transition Program his first day of release. Obtaining housing, using public transportation, clothing/boots, and help getting his Florida ID and Social Security card were just some of the reentry assistance items that Tony took advantage of through the PRIDE Transition Program.
Within two weeks Tony was referred to an employer in his community that manufactured furniture and he has been working there for the past two years. His employer recently told us that even with the economic downturn they are able to utilize Tony’s skills to work in more than one department … all because of his PRIDE training.
Tony has kept his promise he made to himself while at PRIDE: He would get a job, keep the job, support himself, and keep out of his old neighborhoods and life of crime. He now has his driver’s license, a vehicle, and has moved into his own efficiency apartment. And, not only has he successfully established his housing, transportation and employment, he has even become active in church … driving the church van and helping with community activities.
Recently, Tony spoke at a rally of over 250 young people. At this rally, he shared his past and encouraged those young people not to follow in his footsteps and make the same mistakes. He was happy to also share that his turn around in attitude happened when he was assigned to PRIDE.