Updated 5 yearss ago
Jim Murdaugh, president of Tallahassee Community College, is partnering with the Department of Corrections on the first re-entry center in northwest Florida. [Photo: Ray Stanyard]
Several years ago, Jim Murdaugh, then director of Tallahassee Community College's Florida Public Safety Institute, had the idea of partnering with the Florida Department of Corrections to locate a prisoner re-entry center on the same campus as the institute.
It took time, but Murdaugh's brainstorm is coming to fruition: Today, the Gadsden Re-entry Center is under construction — a $19-million, 76,000-sq.-ft., 400-bed minimum security facility scheduled to open next October on the institute's 1,500-acre Midway campus.
The center will take prisoners from other institutions who are within three years of their release dates. Once at the center, they will receive help with substance abuse, vocational training and job-readiness preparation.
"By locating re-entry on our campus, we'll have a unique opportunity to try to change the trajectory of the men coming out,'' says Murdaugh, who is now president of TCC. Walt McNeil, the Corrections secretary he approached about building the center, is now chief of police at nearby Quincy.
The project is the first collaboration between a college and the Department of Corrections. The re-entry center, one of three in the state, is the first in northwest Florida. Local and state leaders are cheering the expected 150 to 200 new jobs, improved outcomes for inmates about to re-enter society and face-to-face education for future corrections officers being trained at the institute.