In an interesting turn of events, a group of criminals broke into a car for a good reason. The men, who were inmates participating in a work release program in New Port Richey, Florida, helped a father, who accidentally locked his keys in his SUV, rescue his one-year-old baby from the vehicle earlier this week.
The five prisoners were being custodied by deputies from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office while working to repair medians outside the West Pasco Judicial Center last Thursday when they saw a man begin to panic and a crowd gather around an SUV. The group of inmates realized that the man had accidentally locked his one-year-old daughter in his SUV.
A passerby happened to have a wire hanger on hand and gave it to the inmates who managed to open the door after a couple of minutes. Though the “break-in” triggered the car alarm, they were able to get the baby out. The prisoners, who have been described as "low-risk offenders,” celebrated the rescue with the crowd gathered around the SUV.
"A lot of them, like these individuals, they know they made bad mistakes, bad choices, but they want to do the right thing in life," Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
New Port Richey is the largest city in Pasco County, which is included in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Tampa Bay Area, and is primarily a bedroom community for Tampa.
In a video recorded by the girl’s mother, Shadow Lantry, deputies can be heard telling the dad to "pop his head in the window" every once in a while so the baby doesn't get scared by all the "strange faces." Luckily, temperatures in Tampa averaged only 72 degrees on Thursday.
"She was just sitting there happy," Lantry said. "It wasn't until the door opened that she started to cry and get nervous and wonder what was going on."
The Florida Work Release program is intended to improve the recidivism outcomes of individuals reentering society after being imprisoned. The program offers a structured reentry environment to enable incarcerated persons nearing the end of their sentences to work regular jobs in the community. The program aims to help inmates to be released with jobs and some savings.
In Florida, prison officials determine an individuals’ readiness for work release when they have 10 months left on their sentences. Those with a history of escape, prior work release termination, a sex offense, four or more prior incarcerations, or a violent detainer are not eligible to take part in the program. Those approved for the program can apply to be transferred to a preferred work release center, which is usually located in the inmate’s county of residence.