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Educational services provided at Lee correctional, behavioral centers

By Staff | Oct 26, 2011

There are many intervention programs at special centers throughout Lee County that students from the Lee County School District are attending to make a better life for themselves.

According to state statues, the school district must provide educational services for the Department of Juvenile Justice sites, correctional facilities and community agencies. Those facilities include Southwest Florida Detention Center, AMIKids Southwest Florida, Pace Center for Girls, Price Halfway House, Lee County Jail and Stockade and Vince Smith Center.

The Southwest Florida Detention Center is a maximum secure facility that provides short-term assistance of 21 days or less for 10 to 18-year-olds. This is the most utilized detention center in the state of Florida that services detainees from Lee, Hendry, DeSoto, Glades and Charlotte counties.

The detention center has six district teachers and four support staffers working at the facility, which contains 60 beds. The facility has had as many as 90 detainees at a time.

AMIKids, which was formerly the Marine Institute, provides five student slots to the Lee County School District on Fort Myers Beach.

John Ingram, chairman of the board for AMIKids, said they have been serving 11 to 18-year-olds for the last 20 years. The school district supports the program through its contribution of $430,000.

“All of our kids come from the Department of the Juvenile Justice,” he said.

Ingram said the students coming into the facility are pretty tough due to arrests and convictions they have encountered in their life. He said they have 55 students enrolled that usually stay between eight to 10 months before they are released back into the community.

For every four kids who come to the school, Ingram said three graduates are drug and crime free and off of probation. The student who does not graduate is placed into a residential program.

The PACE Center for Girls can hold a maximum of 52 students with the length of stay up to two years.

Although the Price Halfway House closed its doors in August after a year of operation, the facility is expected to reopen in March or April of 2012 for 28 females ranging in age from 12 to 18.

The severity and type of crime the teenagers and young adults commit determines whether they will be sent to the Lee County Jail or stockade to serve their time. Both of the centers are maximum security facilities, which hold inmates who are between the ages of 15-22. The average length of stay is anywhere from one day to three years.

The last facility, the Vince Smith Center, is a volunteer based program for substance abuse counseling for at-risk kids. The maximum number of students that can be held for four to six months is 22. There are two district employees who work at the center.