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 December 16th, 2008  
St. Lucie County inmate programs graduation is 2:30 pm, Dec. 16, at the jail
Fifty-five St. Lucie County jail inmates will graduate from self-improvement programs at a ceremony being held in the county jail at 2:30 p.m., Dec. 16.

“Inmates are graduating from a unique public-private partnership to train inmates to work for food service companies,” said Sheriff Ken J. Mascara. “Others are receiving their high school diplomas,” and still others are graduating from a reentry program organized by Public Defender Diamond Litty.”

The culinary program is a joint venture between the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office and its jail food service contractor, Armark, Inc. The program trains carefully screened jail inmates in the art and science of food preparation. Successful graduates receive a Safe Staff certification, a three-year food handler certificate program recognized by the State of Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Seven inmates will graduate from that program Dec. 16.

Aramark is using this program as a prototype for similar programs at other detention facilities throughout the State of Florida.

There will be 23 jail inmates receiving their high school diplomas after successfully completing courses at the jail taught be staff members of Indian River State College.

There also will be 25 inmates graduating from the reentry program taught by the Public Defender’s Office. That program helps inmates find employment, drug treatment if needed and employment through training and educational services.

Graduates of the program have a far lower rate of being rearrested than inmates who do not go through the program.

“In all these programs, we hope to break the vicious cycle of arrest and re-arrest,” Sheriff Mascara said. “By providing educational, occupational and life skills, graduates from inmate programs can take control of their lives and become productive members of society.”

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