Inmate population of controversial Largo work release center being capped

5:15 PM, May 7, 2013   |    comments
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LARGO, Florida -- The inmate population at a controversial work release center in Largo is being capped at 200.

Language in the state's new budget also calls for electronic monitoring of all inmates at work release centers in Florida. In addition, facilities with more than 100 inmates will be required to have at least one certified corrections officer on site at all times.

The changes were prompted after an inmate from the Goodwill-run center in Largo allegedly raped a 17-year-old girl at a bus stop, and another inmate escaped and killed two people in St. Petersburg.

State Senator Jack Latvala said ideally he'd like the privately run center in his district closed.

"I think they dropped the ball when they allowed this to be put there, but we just have to try and make the best of it," he told 10 News on Tuesday.

Currently the Largo center has an inmate population of nearly 300, making it the largest in the state.

Earlier this year, Goodwill agreed to install razor wire fencing in the back of the center to prevent inmates from escaping into a neighboring mobile home park. They also agreed to re-position some security cameras, replace foggy camera lenses, add more lighting, and move up the evening curfew.

Yet even with the additional changes, many residents at the Embassy Mobile Home Park still think the only solution is to close the facility down.

"However you want to cut the mustard, they're not getting the job done. I mean they're doing just enough to appease everyone in the park and that's it," said Danny Czapieski.

Latvala notes if the new changes, which should take effect July 1, don't curb the problems, he will work to do what residents like Czapieski really want.

"I think we're somewhat limited in our ability to completely close it down, but if we take these measures and there are still problems then I will not rest until it gets closed down."

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