While the Herald was running its powerful investigative series on abuse inside Florida prisons, Exchange for Change, a nonprofit organization facilitating writing programs in South Florida prisons was hosting its fall graduations. Almost 150 men and women housed in four correctional institutions received certificates for completing writing and poetry workshops.
Exchange for Change has the support of the Department of Corrections, which, despite its troubles, has staff who understand that inmates are more than the crimes they committed. The program’s growth from one class in 2014 to nine this past fall testifies to the sincerity with which the DOC wants its inmates to succeed.
By enrolling in a program such as Exchange for Change, inmates reduce their chances of returning to prison by 43 percent. Currently, more than two-thirds of inmates are re-arrested within three years of their release; prison writing programs like Exchange for Change are one way to reverse that trend.