SARASOTA, Fla. — The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is launching a new navigator program to help former inmates succeed in the community.
Sheriff Tom Knight said that the two new "Re-Entry Navigator" positions at the sheriff's office will help give guidance to former inmates after they're released from jail.
"Through research, we’ve learned that the first few days after release are the most critical. This is when former inmates are in need of continued case management, psychiatric services, peer support, access to transportation and housing," said Knight.
After an inmate is released, the navigators will work with the former inmates to help them find housing, jobs and give emotional support and guidance.
"I may be the only person that they have right now. I may be the only person in the past 10 years that they've had to be their support," said Michelle Louis-Schnakenberg, a re-entry navigator.
Sheriff Knight said this new program is the icing on the cake to the numerous other recovery programs and job readiness training programs they already have within the jail to help inmates.
The sheriff says the goal is for the former inmates to be successful in the community and not become repeat offenders like 65 percent of inmates are.
“They make sure that while they're released, these people have access to a large range of support services that will help them get their lives back on track and stay out of trouble," said Knight.
The sheriff’s office has partnered with Gulf Coast Community Foundation to secure a grant to pay for the two navigator positions.