MANATEE Local officials and current and former Bradenton Bridge inmates gathered Friday morning at the center to highlight the importance of the program amid the Florida Department of Correction’s decision to shut down the facility March 31 due to budget cuts.
The Bradenton Bridge is a transition and work release facility that provides women who have spent years in prison with counseling, classes and employment opportunities.
There are 120 women now housed at the facility located in the 2100 block of 63rd Avenue East. Once it’s closed, all the women will be returned to prisons statewide. More than 30 people employed there will lose their jobs.
Lori Brown, president of Bridges of America, operator of Bradenton Bridge, was the first to speak at the press conference.
“The state is throwing back into prison 120 non-violent females who have worked hard to turn their lives around, who have played by the rules and who are succeeding,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
Manatee County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino said she “can’t understand why Tallahassee is going to close this facility down.
“There’s no reason that I can comprehend,” she said, later urging the crowd to call their legislators in Tallahassee to “stop this nonsense.”