Grant Aims to Improve Public Safety by Supporting Ex-offenders

(TOLEDO, OH - March 12, 2010) – Prisoners who are being released back to Lucas County from state prisons are getting support that could help them remain law abiding and less likely to committing more crimes that could send them back behind bars.

The Reentry Coalition of Northwest Ohio (RCNWO) has received a $722,377 grant from the Office of Criminal Justice Services in Columbus. The coalition plans to use the money to help people recently released from prison to successfully transition back into the community after serving time in prison. Lucas County Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime, Inc. (T.A.S.C.) will oversee administration of this grant as the fiscal agent for the RCNWO.

According to David Kontur, RCNWO chairperson, the program aims to reduce recidivism in Lucas County by at least 50 percent in the next five years. "Some of the biggest challenges faced by men and women returning to the community include basic needs, education and employment, housing, legal issues, family issues, health, mental health and substance abuse, child support payments, and faith and spirituality. Under the grant, the Coalition will have resources to bring a variety of community agencies together to meet those needs." The grant will also allow the RCNWO to plan programs well into the future.

There are currently 51,073 men and women serving time in Ohio prisons. In 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, the state released 28,039 prisoners, including 1,034 offenders released back into Lucas County. According to Scott Sylak, T.A.S.C. Executive Director, 34 percent of prisoners released back to Lucas County return to prison within three years. "These funds will help create opportunities to reduce that number while improving public safety,” Sylak says.

It costs the State of Ohio $25,243 per year to house an inmate; this translates to $1.28 billion a year statewide. This figure does not include the substantial costs that crimes committed by former inmates impose on victims, law enforcement, and the judiciary.

Lenora Barry, Coalition Coordinator, says, "It is crucial that as the coalition begins to implement our five year strategic plan, key stakeholders remain engaged and consistently work toward achieving our goals."

About the Reentry Coalition of Northwest Ohio
It is the mission of the Reentry Coalition of Northwest Ohio to provide leadership, oversight and implementation guidance in the following:

· Assisting individuals released from prison and returning home to NW Ohio to succeed in our community.

· Building a safer community and reducing the cost of crime –Reducing recidivism by 50 percent within a five-year time period.

· Providing coordinated opportunities through a network of services that those individuals can access to succeed.

· Promoting and utilizing evidence-based practices of frontloading services, engaging family members; adhering to risk and needs principals, and using positive incentives.

Scott A. Sylak
Executive Director

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