City approves new partnership between Public Defender’s Office and TEMPO

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – City of Tallahassee Commissioners unanimously voted 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.

In four years, TEMPO has engaged more than 1,800 young people in Tallahassee, all while keeping a 0% recidivism rate.

Commissioners said they believe it will be a great alternative to incarceration for young people.

Dr. Kimball Thomas, who oversees TEMPO and is currently the City’s Director of Community Services, says the partnership will be another tool in the toolkit.

“This puts them through a process where they get case management. They get to be able to get educational and employment opportunities, workforce training, and their record could necessarily be sealed at one point in time,” Dr. Thomas said.

The referrals would be a sentencing alternative, keeping people out of the jail system.

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

As part of the partnership, the Public Defender’s office will look at clients that would be a good fit for the program.

Public Defender Jessica Yeary says it offers people a second chance.

“One small mistake, or one small misstep shouldn’t make the rest of your life and outcome in a way that you can’t move past it,” Yeary said. “Knowing that it gives our clients the resources, the skills, and the compassion that they need to feel that they are worth this, that they are invested in, that they are given every opportunity they can to succeed.”

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

A major focus of the group will be to keep young men out of crime, addressing its root causes.

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

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