State Senator Jack Latvala vows to close Largo work release center if problems persist

9:26 PM, Jan 31, 2013   |    comments
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Largo, Florida -- State Senator Jack Latvala told neighbors of a controversial work release center in Largo Thursday that he will fight to close the facility if problems persist. 

Latvala told a group of more than 200 people at the Embassy Mobile Home Park that the Goodwill run facility must comply with recent recommendations made for the center by the Florida Department of Corrections. He also said he wants to see Goodwill hire some people with corrections experience.

"If they don't do that, I will do my best to be able to stand out on the street and wave good-bye to the last one of them," he told the group.

The Goodwill run center has been in the news lately after one inmate allegedly raped a 17-year old girl and another allegedly killed two people after escaping from the facility.

Latvala, was joined at the meeting by State Rep. Ed Hooper, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and DOC Director of Institutions for Region III Randy Tifft.

At a minimum, Latvala has said he wants to see a decrease in the inmate population at the center. Currently the facility can house up to 281 inmates, making it the largest such center in the state.

Records show an inmate escapes from the center about once every other week.

A recent DOC review found multiple problems at the center.

READ: DoC's report on Largo's work release center (PDF)

Hooper told 10 News Goodwill's contract to run the center is up at the end of this fiscal year. He indicated that could make it easier to decrease the number of inmates at the facility.

Tifft says DOC will continue to conduct more unannounced audits.  He added Goodwill is "being cooperative" and is "working to comply" with the state's recommendations.

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