A Message from Sheriff Israel:
Everyone deserves a second chance. As individuals, we undoubtedly will make mistakes. It’s how we learn from those mistakes and move forward that determine our resolve and shape the remainder of our lives. Yet for individuals attempting to re-enter society after a stint in prison, those second chances are fraught with countless pitfalls, complex obstacles and troubling temptations.
Each year, the State of Florida releases nearly 2,500 felony inmates who return to Broward. Most come from disadvantaged backgrounds and communities, and many are severely undereducated—some reading at just a sixth grade level. With few skills and often without solid family support, nearly two out of every three will reoffend, leading to a vicious cycle of incarceration and resulting in repeated victimization, strained family relationships, damaged communities and increased costs for taxpayers.
As Sheriff, I understand the importance of removing these barriers. Recently, the Broward Sheriff’s Office launched the ground-breaking inmate re-entry portal. In partnership with the Florida Department of Corrections and the Broward Re-Entry Coalition, the portal provides released inmates with quick, easy and effective access to community services, including potential housing, employment, transportation and health care, needed to ease the transition back into society.
By providing these services, we are helping reduce crime by preventing the re-arrest of released inmates by as much as 50 percent, while assisting offenders in supporting their families, paying taxes and becoming productive, law-abiding citizens. It also has the added impact of saving money for taxpayers, who shell out a staggering $118 per day to keep each offender incarcerated. Simply put, the program bolsters public safety, saves dollars and makes sense.
It is already producing results. Take Carlos H., for example. Carlos has been part of the program since February, after serving 3 ½ years in prison. He’s been in this position of transition before, only to find himself quickly reoffending. With the help of the program, Carlos has received assistance in putting food on his table, a place to sleep, transportation access and gainful employment. More importantly, Carlos believes the portal is giving him his best chance at turning his life around.
“I can’t tell you enough what this is doing for me,” Carlos said. “I love everything about it. By the grace of God, I feel like it’s giving me the best chance of coming back into society and succeeding. I feel blessed.”
The portal is the latest tool in BSO’s progressive community policing model. Over the past three years, BSO has instituted forward-thinking initiatives that have successfully tackled the most pressing law enforcement issues in the county. Since becoming Sheriff in 2013, violent crime is down 18 percent and burglaries have plummeted 42 percent.
While I’m proud of these achievements, I have long maintained BSO is much more than just a law enforcement agency; we are part of the community. Though enforcing the law and catching bad guys will always remain a major part of what we do every day, I have made it a priority to change BSO’s culture from reactive to proactive. I believe we can prevent some crimes from occurring through progressive public safety and social service initiatives.
The portal is the logical next step in the evolution of law enforcement at BSO—and one that will continue to make Broward safer and more united.
Sheriff Scott Israel
Certain Broward cities like Pembroke Pines, Sunrise, Plantation, Davie, Miramar, Lauderhill and Coral Springs maintain their own police departments, however, BSO does provide communications and dispatch services to the following cities: Central Broward, Cooper City, Dania Beach, Deerfield Beach, Ft Lauderdale-Hollywood Int’l Airport, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Lauderdale Lakes, North Lauderdale. Oakland Park, Parkland, Pembroke Park, West Park, Pompano Beach, Port Everglades, Tamarac, Weston and unincorporated West Broward.