City approves new partnership between Office of the Public Defender and TEMPO

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Tallahassee City Commissioners voted unanimously to create a new partnership with the TEMPO program and the Office of the Public Defender in the Second Judicial Circuit.

The partnership will allow the Office of the Public Defender to refer clients to the TEMPO program.

Over four years, TEMPO has hired more than 1,800 youth in Tallahassee, while maintaining a 0% recidivism rate.

Commissioners said they thought it would be a great alternative to incarceration for young people.

Dr. Kimball Thomas, who founded TEMPO and is currently the city’s director of community services, says the partnership will be another tool in the toolbox.

“It puts them through a process where they get case management. They can get education and employment opportunities, workforce training, and their case might necessarily be sealed at some point,” Dr. Thomas said.

References would be an alternative to sentencing, keeping people out of the prison system.

“When you give people more opportunities to do the things they need to do and give them hope, I think they’re less likely to reoffend, and we’re thrilled about that,” said Dr Thomas.

As part of the partnership, the Public Defender’s Office will review clients who would be a good fit for the program.

Public defender Jessica Yeary says it gives people a second chance.

“One small mistake or one small misstep shouldn’t make the rest of your life and your outcome stop you from moving on,” Yeary said. “Knowing that this gives our clients the resources, the skills and the compassion they need to feel they are worth it, that they are invested, that they have every chance of succeeding.”

During Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners also heard an update on the Council on the Status of Men and Boys.

One of the main goals of the group will be to keep young men away from crime, by tackling its root causes.

According to the agenda item, once the proposed charter is approved, there will be a three month planning process. City staff say the job posting for the Executive Director of Council has now been posted online and is open for applications.

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