Flagler County inmates graduate from new fatherhood program

12-week program aims to reduce recidivism

Five inmates recently graduated from the Flagler County Sheriff's Office's new fatherhood program. (Flagler County Sheriff's Office)

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Five Flagler County inmates recently became the first to graduate from the jail’s new InsideOut fatherhood program, which connects incarcerated fathers with their families.

The goal of the 12-week InsideOut program, according to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, is to keep the men in contact with their families so they have a greater incentive to stay out of jail and thereby reduce the likelihood of recidivism.

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"These gentlemen are examples of what can be achieved with programs like ‘InsideOut Dad’ and the support of community volunteers,” Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said. “There is always an opportunity to turn a ‘setback’ into a ‘step-up’ for success. It’s my goal to always return our inmates back into our community more stable and more prepared to make good choices so they can become productive members in our community and for their children. Results like this show that our efforts are working.”

The National Fatherhood Initiative developed and launched the program in 2005 that’s now being used at the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility. Its website says the curriculum focuses on “developing pro-fathering attitudes, knowledge and skills” that will help the men prepare for family life once they’re released.

Rutgers University’s Economic Development Research Group conducted an independent study and evaluation of the program in 2012 and found that it offered sessions on parenting, discipline, handling and expressing emotions, relationships, child development, being a man and fathering while incarcerated.

That study found that participants in the program had improved their parenting knowledge and attitude by the time they graduated.

Also on Thursday, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office announced the development of the new Homeward Bound program for inmates who would like to take training courses on practical job skills.

For the first course, the sheriff’s office purchased a high-tech printer that can print custom-designed vinyl graphics that can be applied to vehicles. Inmates enrolled in that program will apply the designs to Flagler County patrol vehicles, which will prevent the department from having to outsource the work.

The Flagler County jail recently purchased a new printer using money from an inmate wellness fund. (Flagler County Sheriff's Office)

Eventually, other government entities could utilize the program as well for their vehicles.

“This is a great opportunity for inmates to learn a practical skill while serving time in the county jail that will hopefully allow them to find a job quickly after release and get back on track to be productive members of our community,” Staly said.

In the future, the program could also offer certificate courses in fields such as culinary arts or heating, ventilation and air conditioning and training in “soft skills” such as learning how to do a job interview and how to create a resume.

Once inmates complete the program and serve their sentence, the hope is that the skills they learned while incarcerated will help them start a new career.