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Riviera Beach, Palm Beach County declare April 'Re-entry Month'

Program helps ex-offenders get on their feet
Posted at 10:00 PM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 23:58:02-04

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — The city of Riviera Beach and Palm Beach County has declared the month of April as a "Re-entry Month."

In 2007, they partnered to create the Riviera Beach Re-entry Center. It's a program that helps men and women leaving prison get back on their feet.

"Knowing what I know now, what would I have told myself at 19? 'Calm down. It's going to be all right,'" Oswald Newbold said.

Hindsight is 2020 for Newbold. At 19, he made an impulsive decision that cost him 25 years, one month and 13 days.

"I went in for attempt(ed) murder and aggravated battery," he said.

To be clear, he went to prison. Over time, Newbold said, he realized there are two types of people locked up -- those doing time and those using time.

"Here's the difference: Those that are doing time are the guys just worried about going to the rec field, what time is chow, and what's on TV tonight. They're doing time," Newbold said. "The people using time, yeah, you'll see them get some rec, but you'll see them with some books under their arms."

According to the city of Riviera Beach, thousands of adults return from incarceration to Palm Beach County each year.

In 2007, the City of Riviera Beach and the county partnered to create the Re-entry Center helping ex-offenders like Newbold get on their feet.

"So, we provide employment, counseling, substance abuse, mental health, transitional housing," Orie Bullard said.

Bullard is the director of the center. He said men and women released within the last 18-24 months are eligible for their on-the-job training program.

"They're learning construction trades, carpentry, masonry, plumbing, electrical, all those different things," he said.

Newbold is now working with the center. He tells his clients to "take one step at a time."

"We look for achievable goals," he said.

Since 2007, the Re-entry Center has helped over 1,200 women and men get back on their feet.

The program's recidivism rate hovers between 20-25%, which is much lower than the national average.