Lake County Sheriff's Office working to help former female inmates get back on their feet

Posted at 6:42 PM, May 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-22 18:44:23-04

More women are committing crimes and landing in jail, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

The Chief Deputy at the sheriff’s office talked only to News 5 about this trend and the resources that are available to help these women get back on their feet.

Chief Deputy Frank Leonbruno said it can be tough for both men and women to get re-integrated into their communities after jail. For women, many are victims of domestic abuse and have a history of drug abuse.

Leonbruno said the sheriff's office is now working with a number of organizations to help them get their life back on track.

“When they leave, they don't have the proper support, and they turn to crime, which is theft and those issues to try and support their children,” he said.

With former female inmates, some of them are even mothers and not only have to take care of themselves when they are released, but their children.

He said, after serving their time, they continue to struggle with drug or alcohol abuse, lack of education and job skills. Another common issue is mental health.

The Women's Center at Lakeland Community College focuses on building confidence and developing positive relationships for its female students, who have strayed into the wrong path.

“Just having someone to listen to you and believe in you, and someone you can confide in,” said Mary Goss-Hill of the Center.

She said the most important thing is to find ways to deal with stressful situations that are not self-destructive.

“It matters to a student that they are excepted for what they've done, and they can be forgiven for what they've done in the past,” said Goss-Hill.

By building their self-esteem, these students are able to perform better in school and make better life choices, according to Goss-Hill.

Last year, the Lake County Sheriff's Office supported a law that passed to help former drug addicts get the emotional and psychological help they need, in an effort they need to reduce re-incarceration.

The chief deputy said they now have enough resources that any inmate or former inmate can get help, if they request it.