MIAMI (CBSMiami) — For months the Miami Dade County boot camp has faced an uncertain future as Mayor Carlos Gimenez recommended its closure as a way of saving money. But late Monday, Gimenez sent a memo to county commissioners saying he was restoring the boot camp’s $3.5 million budget.
“Originally, it was keep boot camp open or have more police officers; and we prioritized the police officers,” Gimenez said during an interview with CBS4’s Jim DeFede. “But we found additional, one-time revenue, so it will keep the boot camp open. A lot of the commissioners think it’s a great program and I think it’s a great program.”READ MORE: Miami-Dade Police Officer Arrested On Domestic Violence Charge
Inmates in boot camp range in age from 16 to 24. They are given a chance to complete the intense program as opposed to being warehoused in prison where too often inmates come out – in the words of one judge – “bigger, badder, better criminals.”
The recidivism rate for folks who go to prison is 27 percent – meaning one out of four will be re-arrested for committing a new crime, but County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson said it is far different inside boot camp.
“You’ll find when they go to this boot camp only one out of ten maybe will actually go back to crime,” she said. “The rest have become successful adults.”
The boot camp is the last in the state.
“I’m very happy to see it back,” Edmonson said.READ MORE: Coconut Grove Arts Festival Gets Green Light For Full-Capacity Return In 2022
The mayor’s announcement follows a half hour special CBS4 News aired Sunday morning on the boot camp program and the impact it has had on the lives of those who go through it.
Click here to view our Last Chance Boot Camp page and watch the Facing South Florida segments.
“This is the only program set up to rehabilitate people,” County Commissioner Sally Heyman said Tuesday.
Heyman, head of the commission’s public safety committee and another boot advocate, said her reaction after hearing the mayor was restoring the money was simple: “Thanks for seeing the light.”
“However it comes, it came and thanks to you and Channel 4 for exposing the benefits of the program,” she said. “It’s an investment and it’s a good one.”
The county budget, including the renewed funding for the boot camp, will be approved Thursday. On Friday, the next platoon of cadets is expected to start the program.MORE NEWS: City Of Miami Unveils Interactive Kiosk To Help Visitors Navigate Wynwood
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