Boca Raton, Florida (WPEC) — Americans spend billions of dollars to keep families safe. That’s because criminal rehabilitation is expensive. And for the most part – statistics prove – it doesn’t work.But now, there may be a solution.One could call this a billion dollar idea: a change in the criminal mindset turning former convicts into model citizens.Right now, there are several success stories unfolding under the Florida sun.Sean Quilter is a personal trainer. He runs his business like he runs his clients – with intensity and purpose.Adam Cozzi a computer tech. He helps clients fix their computer problems.”The past is the past,” said Cozzi. “Everybody makes mistakes.”And, Michael Pierangelino runs a non-profit called, Original Guidance Foundation.On this particular day, he was out on the streets trying to help homeless men find shelter for the night.“I can change, and I can help others change.”All three entrepreneurs are convicted felons.They developed their business plans while serving time in a Florida State Prison.”That’s the ultimate freedom,” said Don Carr, CEO of Leap Workshops, “to have your own business!”Carr started a pilot program teaching convicts to launch their own business.He said newly released convicts need to be willing to change the way they think and change the mindset that led to commit crimes in the first place.And while that may be a tough sell to the public, “it’s not as tough as them crawling through your window!”
A Pew Charitable Trusts report calls American prisons “a revolving door.”
The director of this study said recidivism rates remain stubbornly high, even though states spend $52 billion a year on this problem.
The Florida Department of Corrections show, on average, half the convicts released across the country will commit another crime.
“It’s too easy to say, ‘Oh, let the judges deal with it. Let the police deal with it’,” said Carr. “When they get released, they don’t go to the judge and sleep on his bench in the courtroom or sleep on the stairs at the police station, they are our neighbors.”
A recent dash-cam video released by the Indian River County Sheriff backs up Carr’s argument.
It’s one example of the dangers behind recidivism.
Andrew Coffee was released from prison in May 2015 for an attempted murder conviction decades ago.
During a stop by an IRC Sheriff’s deputy for not having tags on his scooter, Coffee assaulted the officer with a gun and tried to kill him.
Carr said one way for convicts to stay out of prison is to live with purpose.
For him, his purpose is owning his own business.
And, he should know because Carr is also a convicted felon.
“Nobody can tell me it doesn’t work.”
Carr just got approval from the Department of Corrections to implement his program in prisons throughout the state.