FMPD received $1 mil for inmate re-entry program

Reporter: Taylor Petras Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

Fort Myers has received money from the federal government to help inmates re-enter society after serving their time behind bars.

The Department of Justice will grant $1 million to Fort Myers Police Department to establish an inmate re-entry program into society.

“I struggled,” said Neil Volz, a convicted felon. “I went from job opportunity, to job opportunity, to job opportunity and was told, ‘No; no; no;’ because of my criminal background.”

Volz was convicted of conspiracy as part of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal more than a decade ago.

Turned down by many employers, Volz had no choice but to take a job making minimum wage.

“It was a humbling but incredibly empowering experience to kind of walk through one step at a time and get back on your feet and become a productive member of society,” Volz said.

That is what FMPD is hoping to do for the more than 1,100 inmates that are up for release in the next three years.

“It does stop an individual from going back and committing crimes, hanging out and getting involved with the wrong people,” said Jim Wall, CareerSource Southwest Florida.

FMPD is partnering with organizations like CareerSource to connect people with job opportunities.

Volz said resources will be huge for those trying to get back on track.

“We don’t want to see people fall back into a life of crime,” Volz said. “This is a good win-win for our community.”

FMPD is working with FGCU to perform research for the program development.

Currently, 40 percent of men who are incarcerated in Lee County end up back behind bars within three years. FMPD hopes to cut that statistic in half moving forward with the program.

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