In December 2008, the Ohio General Assembly passed a historic piece of reentry legislation, House Bill 130. HB130 offers a framework for a long-term investment in the state’s economy by addressing legal and other barriers to employment for people released from prison. A key component of the bill is the removal of non-relevant prohibitions or collateral sanctions to employment. The legislation states that a felony conviction does not by itself constitute grounds for denying employment. Other important provisions include the authorization for reentry courts, and procedures for facilitating access to obtaining valid forms of identification upon release. Finally, the legislation calls for the formation of an Ex-Offender Reentry Coalition that will serve as a guiding hub for expanding and improving reentry efforts across state and local agencies and communities.
The Coalition’s overriding goals are to:
The Coalition is committed to the recidivism reduction of 50% over a five year period. A baseline recidivism rate will be established as a benchmark for subsequent follow up under the required periods for reporting on accomplishments and results. The Reentry Coalition will accomplish these goals by facilitating offenders’ successful transition and reintegration to neighborhoods across the state. Working together in a collective fashion, its member agencies will be positioned to draw on human and social capital from many sources, as well as target the impact of incarceration now and on future generations of Ohio citizens and families. The collaborations established with the Reentry Coalition support will enable state and local agencies to become proactive rather than reactive in their approach to offender treatment, service delivery, and public safety. These investments made at all levels of government and through vibrant community partnerships will create opportunities and dividends for offenders, families, victims, and neighborhoods across the state.
The membership of the Reentry Coalition is comprised of both statutory and at-large members.
Additionally, representatives from community-based organizations, service providers, local governments, and individuals interested or involved in the reentry of offenders shall be invited to participate in Coalition meetings and consulted by the Reentry Coalition during the course of its work. The Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction or the Director’s designee shall serve as the Chairperson of the Ohio Offender Reentry Coalition.
The mission of the Reentry Coalition is to ensure successful offender reentry, reduce recidivism and enhance public safety. The Coalition will achieve these goals through collaborative partnerships with government entities, faith and community-based organizations, and other stakeholders. It will utilize a holistic evidence-based approach that starts at the point of contact with the criminal justice system and includes an emphasis on education, families, health services, alcohol and other drug treatment, employment, mentorship and housing.
The role of the Reentry Coalition will be dynamic and supportive to agencies, counties, municipalities, organizations, and individuals that are interested in or already committed to working with the reentry of ex-offenders into the community. Its major responsibilities will include the following.
Beginning December 1st, 2009 and every year thereafter, the Director of the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction shall submit a written report to the Governor describing the Reentry Coalition’s accomplishments and progress in advancing reentry projects. The report shall address the effectiveness of agency coordination and communication, the establishment and work of local reentry task forces, the identification of barriers confronting offenders, recommendations for legislative or administrative changes, and the submission and receipt of reentry grants. More specifically, the report must analyze the effects of barriers on ex-offenders, their children and their families relative to the following areas: admission to public and other housing, child support obligations and procedures, parental incarceration and family reunification, social security benefits, veterans’ benefits, food stamps, and other forms of public assistance, employment programs, education programs and financial assistance, substance abuse, mental health, and sex offender treatment programs and financial assistance, civic and political participation, and collateral consequences attendant to a criminal conviction. In addition, the comprehensive report will contain annual and five-year performance outcomes describing the effects of the State’s reentry endeavors.