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Ohio's offender recidivism rate is currently at an 11-year low, with only 28.7 percent of inmates returning to prison after release. This accomplishment can be attributed to a number of factors, including evidence-based programming and enhanced community partnerships. However, Ohio continues to explore avenues to further decrease the number of offenders who return to prison. Bringing awareness to the issue of collateral consequences is a common sense approach to ensure Ohio's recidivism rate further decreases.
In Ohio an estimated 2 million citizens (out of 11.5 million or about 17%) have a felony or misdemeanor conviction. About 400,000 individuals have come through the prison system alone since the mid-1980s. Felons, former felons, and those with misdemeanor convictions often have families--dependent children, a marital partner, mothers, and fathers. Approximately a third of Ohio's citizens are handicapped economically because employment opportunities are reduced for those with a criminal conviction by the impact of collateral consequences. These sanctions are restrictions, disabilities, or penalties beyond the direct punishment imposed on individuals at the time of sentencing.
On November 28, 2011, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) and the Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS) co-sponsored a workgroup addressing collateral consequences for individuals with felony or misdemeanor convictions. This event, kicked off and supported by Governor John Kasich, provided a unique opportunity for legislators, judges, prosecutors, criminal justice professionals and other stakeholders to come together to find common ground in addressing the issue of collateral consequences. The goal for the day was to come to a broad consensus on how to effectively address collateral consequences while maintaining public safety.
Addressing Collateral Consequences: Part 2 was held at the King Arts Complex in Columbus on January 10, 2012. This forum featured a panel presentation by group facilitators as well as real life testimonials from ex-offenders whose lives have been impacted by collateral consequences. In the afternoon, workgroups reconvened to further refine previous recommendations and begin outlining strategic implementation steps to effectively address collateral consequences in Ohio.
Questions concerning the Collateral Consequences initiative should be directed to DRC.CollateralConsequences@odrc.state.oh.us.