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DeSantis touts program to help inmates leaving prison

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis makes announcement Friday at Operation New Hope, a Jacksonville nonprofit
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis makes announcement Friday at Operation New Hope, a Jacksonville nonprofit (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis visited a Jacksonville nonprofit Friday to announce the creation of a direct-support organization to help inmates find jobs after they complete their sentences. The organization, called the Florida Foundation for Correctional Excellence, will work with businesses and nonprofit groups to raise money for workforce training and re-entry programs. 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.

Among the organization’s board members are David Hart, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce; Denver Stutler, chief executive officer of U.S. Submergent Technologies; Mark Reynolds, national director of Trinity Broadcast Network; Erik Dellenback, former president and executive director of the Tim Tebow Foundation; and Doug Deason, a Dallas businessman who is a prominent advocate for criminal-justice reform.

DeSantis chose to announce the new organization at Operation New Hope, a Jacksonville-based nonprofit organization that provides a support system to those who have been incarcerated.

DeSantis tied the effort to immigration issues. He said he would rather dedicate resources to Floridians who are getting out of prison than “having people come in from a foreign country, oftentimes illegally,” to get jobs.

“We have to take care of our own here,” said DeSantis, who is pushing the Legislature to pass a bill that would require private and public employers to do immigration checks on all new workers.