Greeting customers with a smile, Eric Smallridge is thankful for every day he breaths free air.
“I thought that I would be incarcerated into my 40s,” said Eric.
Eric is a manager in training at GoodWill but just last year he was serving time for two DUI Manslaughter felonies.
In 2002 Eric struck a car and killed two girls. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison, but after the victim’s families asked for leniency his time was shortened.
“Being that I was a first time offender I was allowed to take advantage of the work release program and in doing that Goodwill has a policy where they try to help the disadvantaged or disabled members of the community,” said Eric.
Landing a job can be the difference between a life of crime and a future on the right side of the law. That’s why the state is constantly improving its work release program.
At a news conference Monday Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews announced the number of felons who committee new crimes, or the recidivism rate, has fallen from 33 percent to 27.
“We are making some progress with them right now through the programs and education that we have so that when they get out the first thing they have to do is not recommitted crime, but they can go get a job,” said Crews.
For every one percent drop in the recidivism rate the state saves 19 million dollars, and society gains taxpayers. The declining rate of reoffending felons has saved the state 44 million dollars. It could also mean bonuses for some Florida correctional officers.