ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri got plenty of applause from several hundred members of a community group on Monday when he discussed plans to re-institute a drug treatment program inside the County Jail.
A similar program was phased out in 2010, under previous Sheriff Jim Coats, because of budget cuts. That brought a sharp reaction from an interfaith alliance called Faith and Action for Strength Together, or FAST, which urged Sheriff's officials to renew such a program to help people get off drugs so they can turn away from crime.
Gualtieri told FAST members on Monday the new program will begin in spring 2013, and also focus on mental health needs and life skills. Inmates would start the program inside the jail and continue after they are released.
Gualtieri, a Republican, is seeking to be elected as sheriff Nov. 6. He is running against Democratic challenger Scott Swope.