Glades Correctional Institution closing is another blow to Glades unemployment battle

Prison closing is just another blow to Belle Glade

BELLE GLADE, Fla. - You don't have to go far to see boarded up windows and devastation in Belle Glade and now there's more devastating news for the small city.

Florida State Representative Mack Bernard of District 84 said in a meeting Tuesday the Department of Corrections said they will be shutting down the Glades Correctional Institution December 1st.

"You know being that the City of Belle Glade and the Glades area has a high unemployment rate of 41 percent or higher, that's not good news," Mayor of Belle Glade Steve B. Wilson said.

Not good news at all, especially for the 250 workers at the prison. Workers who wouldn't go on camera, but say it's stressful because they haven't been told what is going to happen to their jobs.

"It's sad," Unemployed Belle Glade resident Carlisa Hicks said. "It's something that people rely on and it's not actually going to be there but what can you do?"

What prison workers may have to do is join Hicks and nearly 5,000 unemployed others a month, that go to the Workforce Alliance Center looking for help finding a job. 

"Exactly what can you do besides go to school or move away from here where you'll be able to find a job," Hicks said.

Workforce Alliance Business Liaison Denny Abbott tries to find work for them to do by reaching out to companies daily.

"Except for the sugar farmers, most of the businesses here are small, family owned 5 to 7 person employees that have worked in those businesses for years," Abbott said. "They're not creating jobs because they're trying to make enough to get by themselves." 

But there are job opportunities with a State Road 80 Guardrail project as well as a couple new fire stations that are being built in Pahokee and South Bay.  

"The problem is with public sector jobs and work like that is that they're temporary in nature," Abbott said.

Whereas the Glades Correctional Institution was permanent. 

"I'm just hopeful that the powers that be will find a way to utilize that facility," Mayor Wilson said. "We will not give up."

The Glades Work Camp across the street will remain open and retain the 50 jobs of those employees that work there.  As for the GCI employees, Rep. Bernard said they should receive their notices on their future in the middle of October.

The Glades work camp across the street from the prison will stay open and retain it's 50 workers. The prison employees are expected to receive notices in mid october.