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Clay County jail hopes to show inmates ‘there’s a better way’

Over 400 inmates have access to programs that teach skills for positive future

Programs at the Clay County jail teach inmates life skills to improve their future.
Programs at the Clay County jail teach inmates life skills to improve their future. (WJXT)

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – Benjammin Brown has been in the Clay County jail for eight months on a burglary charge.

The 19-year-old is set to be released in April, and he has no plans to return once he's out.

A program the jail provided to expand his skills also broadened his hopes for the future.

"I didn't come here just to go out the same way I came in. It does help me to think about what to do and what I'm going to do, too,” Brown said.

Benjammin Brown, 19, plans to use the skills he's learned and the diploma he earned to avoid returning to jail.
Benjammin Brown, 19, plans to use the skills he's learned and the diploma he earned to avoid returning to jail. (WJXT)

Chief Steven Inman has high hopes for Brown, too.

"We want every inmate who leaves our facility to go out and be successful,” said Inman, who is chief of detention administration in Clay County.

He said the idea is to change inmates' lives, beyond punishment.

"The system is designed to break a person's spirit,” Inman said. “Through programs, we hope to build that spirit in a positive manner, give the person some self-esteem through hope, and show them there's a better way."

The 440 inmates inside the Clay County jail have access to programs that teach engraving, embroidery, parenting, anger management, life skills and substance abuse prevention.

READ | Full list of Clay County jail programs, with descriptions

Inman said last quarter, nine inmates earned their high school diplomas. Two have so far this year.

Brown is one of them.

He said he's considering the military or college -- maybe even a legal career.

"If I just stay to myself and just concentrate on my goals, no one should be able to take me out my character,” Brown said. “I decide to just keep that mindset the whole time."

A mindset that could truly change his future.


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