Sarasota News Leader

07/04/2013

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EYEGLASSES MAY BREAK THE CYCLE The Judge Lynn Silvertooth Judicial Center (right) is close to the Sarasota Police Department (left) and the Sarasota County Jail. Photo by Norman Schimmel A CHAPLAIN AT THE COUNTY JAIL WANTS TO REDUCE THE RECIDIVISM RATE BY ENABLING AND ENCOURAGING INMATES TO READ By Stan Zimmerman City Editor Research from a decade ago indicates jail and prison inmates who read well have a significantly greater chance of never coming back "into the system." In fact, states use the literacy rates of fifth-grade students to predict the number of prison cells they will need in the future. the major factor in the "revolving door syndrome," in which people oscillate in a cycle from the street to the emergency room to the jail. Dave Norris, a chaplain at the Sarasota County Jail, is developing a promising effort to stop the revolving door with one simple tool You can't take up a self- — eyeglasses. 
 If a prisoner is literate, he has a 16 percent chance of recidivism. improvement program, work on the GED If the prisoner is funcor read the Bible if you can't see the words. tionally illiterate, that number skyrockets to Dave Norris Chaplain 70 percent. Reading Sarasota County Jail ability is a major, if not "We provide about 300 pairs of reading glasses per month," he said. "With roughly 1,000 people in jail,

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