Goodwill work release center in Largo closed - WFLA News Channel 8

Goodwill work release center in Largo closed

Posted: Updated:
LARGO, FL (WFLA) -

Florida Department of Corrections terminated a contract with Goodwill Industries Suncoast and removed all the inmates from its Largo work release center Friday morning, the department representatives told us.

The department made this decision based on the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office report, according to the statement DOC issued. PCSO deputies conducted surveillance of inmates at the Largo center.

News Channel 8's Josh Thomas reported on Thursday the investigation revealed that inmates leave the facility, hide things in the bushes and even conduct hand-to-hand transactions with outsiders.

Related story: 06/27/2013 Pinellas Sheriff calls for halfway house to close

PCSO Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said about the Largo center, "The inmates would leave the facility, they would go up and down US 19, and behind businesses, and they had stuff buried under bushes, and stuff under mulch and stuff behind a variety of businesses."

The DOC statement also mentioned an inaccurate inmate count conducted by Goodwill which allowed an escaped inmate to go undetected for more than three hours.

DOC representatives considered these deficiencies to constitute a real and immediate threat to public safety.

They removed all the inmates form the Largo center at 4 a.m. Friday and sent a notice out to Goodwill about the contract termination, according to the statement.

Friday evening, the president and CEO of Goodwill Industries-Suncoast, Deborah A. Passerini, issued a written response, which is as follows:

"We are disappointed by the decision to shut down our Largo facility.

Goodwill re-entry centers are designed to help those Floridians who've been in prison make a successful transition back into society. We do this as a way to serve our communities and help those who have been incarcerated find jobs once they are released. Goodwill helped pioneer work release more than 50 years ago and these programs work. Multiple studies have shown that work release programs significantly reduce the rates of recidivism.

We would like to clarify the timeline regarding the offender escape that was mentioned in the news. Our surveillance shows the offender left the facility at 12:40 a.m. We discovered he was not in his bed at 4:16 a.m. We then immediately searched the facility and completed that search at 4:52 a.m. At that point, we called the Department of Corrections first, which we are required to do. We then made a series of additional calls, also required, and once those calls were complete, we called the Sheriff's office at 5:47 a.m. At 5:50 a.m. Goodwill staff confronted individuals in a white vehicle who were found to be from the Sheriff's office. We then continued to work closely with all authorities until the offender was arrested.

Goodwill does great work to help people in our community. Day in and day out, we are focused on our mission, which is to help people achieve their full potential through the dignity and power of work."

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @WFLA

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Mortgage nightmare for Plant City couple

    Mortgage nightmare for Plant City couple

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-16 03:44:22 GMT
    Karl and Vicktoria Hanson thought their foreclosure nightmare was long over. It may be just beginning.
    Karl and Vicktoria Hanson thought their foreclosure nightmare was long over. It may be just beginning.
  • Bradenton massage therapist banned from contact with women by state

    Bradenton massage therapist banned from contact with women by state

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 5:03 PM EDT2014-04-15 21:03:21 GMT
    The Florida Department of Health says it served licensed massage therapist Kevin Joseph Holmes, 60, with an emergency order Tuesday morning that bans him from working with female clients.The Florida Department of Health says it served licensed massage therapist Kevin Joseph Holmes, 60, with an emergency order Tuesday morning that bans him from working with female clients.
    The Florida Department of Health says it served licensed massage therapist Kevin Joseph Holmes, 60, with an emergency order Tuesday morning that bans him from working with female clients.The order says Holmes "unrestricted practice as a massage therapist with female clients constitutes an immediate serious danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the public
    The Florida Department of Health says it served licensed massage therapist Kevin Joseph Holmes, 60, with an emergency order Tuesday morning that bans him from working with female clients.The order says Holmes "unrestricted practice as a massage therapist with female clients constitutes an immediate serious danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the public
  • State takes emergency action against Bradenton massage therapist after 8 On Your Side investigation

    State takes emergency action against Bradenton massage therapist after 8 On Your Side investigation

    Monday, April 14 2014 7:09 PM EDT2014-04-14 23:09:06 GMT
    Kevin Holmes, massage therapistKevin Holmes, massage therapist
    According topolice records Kevin Holmes, age 60, toldinvestigators the client he gave a therapeutic massage to last month"was an attractive girl, plain and simple."It turns out she was also an off-duty detective, and Holmes said what he did to her was "absolutely inapproriate."
    According topolice records Kevin Holmes, age 60, toldinvestigators the client he gave a therapeutic massage to last month"was an attractive girl, plain and simple."It turns out she was also an off-duty detective, and Holmes said what he did to her was "absolutely inapproriate."
  • NewsMore>>

  • Lightning's Lindback to start Game 1 vs. Canadiens

    Lightning's Lindback to start Game 1 vs. Canadiens

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 3:54 AM EDT2014-04-16 07:54:49 GMT
    Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper grudgingly gave up the news.Injured goaltender Ben Bishop will not play in Game 1 of the team's Eastern Conference playoff series against Montreal.
    Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper grudgingly gave up the news.Injured goaltender Ben Bishop will not play in Game 1 of the team's Eastern Conference playoff series against Montreal.
  • South Korea says 293 missing in ferry disaster

    South Korea says 293 missing in ferry disaster

    More than 100 people were still unaccounted Wednesday several hours after a ferry carrying 476, most of them high school students, sank in cold waters off South Korea's southern coast, killing at least two and...
    Nearly 300 people were still missing Wednesday several hours after a ferry carrying 459, most of them high school students, sank in cold waters off South Korea's southern coast, killing at least two and injuring seven,...
  • Police say 5 dead in Calgary stabbings

    Police say 5 dead in Calgary stabbings

    A recent graduate of the University of Calgary was charged in the fatal stabbing of five people at a house party that the police chief called the worst mass slaying in the western Canadian city's history.
    A recent graduate of the University of Calgary was charged in the fatal stabbing of five people at a house party that the police chief called the worst mass slaying in the western Canadian city's history.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.