Governor visits Operation New Hope

Group helps put ex-offenders back to work

Published On: Feb 07 2013 05:21:29 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 07 2013 08:47:14 PM EST
Gov. Rick Scott at Operation New Hope
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Gov. Rick Scott spent about an hour inside the Operation New Hope building in Jacksonville on Thursday learning about all that the group does to help put ex-offenders back to work.

"This is an impressive place. They are trying to do a great job," Scott said. "They are doing a great job getting these individuals back to work."

Since Operation New Hope was founded in the late 1990s, it has taken former inmates convicted of nonviolent and non-sex crimes and provided them with the training to get back into the workforce.

"It's great for our state, it's great for their families," Scott said. "I think every family in our state has dealt with people who have made mistakes, and they are turning these lives around and these families around."

"When you think about the byproduct of these folks getting it right and having success, you have more crime prevention, crime rates are down, taxpayers have to pay less," said Kevin Gay, president of Operation New Hope.

The group focuses on the Springfield and East Jacksonville neighborhoods, trying to restore the communities and make them a more vibrant part of the city.

In the 14 years the group has been around, Gay says it has been able to help turn the housing market in those areas around, but not without the help of others in the community.

"When you talk about re-entry and getting people back, it's hard without having partners that can come in and help with education," Gay said.

Since its inception, Operation New Hope has built or restored more than 70 homes, giving many people a chance at work they wouldn't have otherwise had. The agency's work has even earned it recognition from the White House.