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Citizen participation and guidance is essential for correctional practices inside and outside institutions. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has embraced the needs related to offenders returning home from correctional settings and as such one strategy is the implementation of Citizen Circles.
Citizen Circles create partnerships that promote positive interaction and accountability for offenders upon release. Circle members address risks that contribute to criminal activity by taking ownership of the solution. It is an opportunity for citizens to communicate expectations for successful reentry and help offenders recognize the harm their behavior has caused others. Offenders are able to make amends and demonstrate their value and potential to the community.
Offenders and their families develop relationships with members of the community and together develop a plan to help the offender become accepted as a productive citizen and member of the community. The Citizen Circle helps offenders understand being a positive community member demands responsibility and obligation.
The Citizen Circle creates an environment fostering acceptance and focuses on offender's personal strengths. A focus on the future rather than the past, and giving back through community service and contributions are key elements for success. Offenders seek involvement with a Citizen Circle voluntarily. The Citizen Circles meet on a regular basis to discuss offender progress, review plans, interview new applicants, admit new members and to discharge both successful and unsuccessful offenders.
For further information, e-mail DRC.CitzenCircles@odrc.state.oh.us.