THE NEXT STEPS
This difficult process has undoubtedly made you wonder how you got here. Hopefully, now that I've helped you get through the criminal justice part of this struggle, you can take the next steps and make sure you're not back in the same place in the future. Below are resources that you can use to change your life for the better and I hope you do!
Many people end their education prematurely but it's never too late to start up again. Education is the foundation of success. Studies show a direct correlation between increased education and increased average income. Whether trying to obtain a GED, Associates degree, Technical Certification, or a 4-year college degree, Central Florida has affordable options that can work in your budget and timeline. Don't wait, start today!
For many jobs, a high school diploma or equivalent is required just to get an interview. The GED high school equivalency test is composed of 4 sections (each costs $32) and can be taken separately but all must be completed within 2 years. The GED test must be taken in person but GED prep classes are offered online. Close to 500,000 people get a GED every year and you can be one of them.
There are many great career options that do not require a 2 or 4 year degree but do require further specialized education. While there are many technical colleges throughout Florida, their prices vary and it is important to shop around. Investing thousands of dollars in one certificate program that would have cost significantly less at another school can be a major (and unnecessary) financial set-back.
Drug and alcohol addiction can lead to poor decision making and often that leads to repeated mistakes. Some people don't see that their drug and/or alcohol addiction is the source of their troubles. But for the people that do want to make a change, it isn't easy and most people need help.
If you have a drug and/or alcohol addiction that you have been fighting for a while it is possible that you need to remove yourself from the negative influences, whether they are family or friends, and enter a residential treatment program.
Many outpatient treatment services provide exactly what you need to manage your addiction.
It is an unfortunate reality that many people with mental health issues pass through the criminal justice system. If arrested, a defendant must be legally competent in order to participate in the proceeding against them. If a person is not competent they may become competent through the assistance of a mental health professional and medication.
Mental illness is a lifelong struggle and some medications have undesirable side effects which lead many to go "off their meds." A pattern of this behavior can lead to a damaging cycle. Jails and prisons are not equipped to best handle people who are struggling to stay on their medications but can be a place of opportunity for those that have slipped through the cracks.
After being stabilized within a jail or prison, the real test begins once you are on the outside. It is absolutely imperative that those with diagnosed mental illness maintain regular contact with an organization that has outpatient services. Those professionals are there to help you stay on the healthy path and away from law enforcement.