NewsCitrus, Hernando County


'Project Re-Start' graduate encourages inmates to get jobs and stay sober

Posted at 5:51 PM, Feb 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-07 17:51:10-05

HERNANDO COUNY, Fla. — A program to help inmates succeed is changing the lives of former criminals and drug addicts in Hernando County.

Patricia Gioia is doing well today, but she had a rocky past of drug use and crime.

"You’d think something like that would make you stay clean, but once again I went back out," Gioia said.

Gioia told her story to classroom of inmates taking the “Re-Start” program at the Hernando County Detention Center.  Like them, she was sitting in that classroom just a year ago.

"I don’t know if I didn’t have that support what kind of decisions I would make," Gioia said.

Now she is clean and has a full-time job. She says its thanks to "Project Re-Start" that teaches career skills and focuses on sobriety.

Deputy Krystal DeJesus is one of the instructors.

"Unfortunately 99 percent of our population are drug addicts so I focus more on that. Motivating them and telling them they can do it, building them up and giving them resources," she said.

"It built my confidence, just having certificates. Because little things like that when you’re in this lifestyle do affect you later on in life," Gioia said.

The sheriff’s office says out of the 18 inmates who have completed “Project Re-Start,” none of them have re-offended, making the program a huge success. And making people like a Gioia role models.

"Stay sober. Manage your own life and take control of it. Its never too late," Gioia said.