Summit County, Ohio: Summit County Common Pleas Administrative Judge Amy Corrigall Jones is pleased to announce Summit County Common Pleas Reentry Courts have been awarded a $20,000 grant from the County of Summit ADM Board. The funding, received from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services state reentry fund, provides reentry coalitions financial support to assist ex-offenders with behavioral health disorders and aid them in eliminating barriers to behavioral treatment that are specific to their individual needs. The Summit County Court of Common Pleas Reentry Courts, Broken Chains Ministry and Truly Reaching You, Inc. received funding to further reentry efforts in Summit County.
Through Reentry Court Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands’ active participation in the Summit County Reentry Network (SCRN) reorganizational meetings, ADM recognized the value of collaboration between the Summit County Common Pleas Reentry Courts and county-wide reentry efforts.
“Reentry Court supervises and supports the return to the community of people being released from prison,” explained Judge Rowlands. “Using the court’s authority to apply positive reinforcement and graduated sanctions and to marshal resources to support successful reintegration, Reentry Court promotes the ex-offender’s positive behavior,” stated Judge Rowlands.
In January 2018 alone, there were 2,646 inmates from Summit County housed in Ohio prisons. Many inmates have drug and alcohol issues. Those incarcerated have a higher risk of re-offending due to untreated emotional and family issues, as well as a lack of education or poor employment history. A significant number of inmates have not graduated from high school and many have learning disabilities. Reentry Court assists in easing the transition from prison to community life, linking participants to a wide range of social services, including drug treatment, transitional employment and vocational services, health care and mental health treatment.
“My work and commitment to reentry led me to rethink the processes of reentry – to develop new concepts that will frame the mix of governmental, private, community, and individual responsibilities to successfully reintegrate inmates into society. Our challenge is to improve the way we manage the reentry of ex-offenders into our community without posing significant public safety risks–and to build the public’s confidence in our overall system of justice,” stated Judge Rowlands. “This funding will allow our Reentry Courts to collaborate with community agencies such as South Street Ministries and Front Porch, and to help us provide services to overcome barriers to successful reintegration,” concluded Judge Rowlands.
Summit County Reentry Court is a specialized docket requiring certification by the Ohio Supreme Court. Each of Summit County’s three Reentry Courts has recently been re-certified. Completion of the Reentry Court program takes one to two years and requires the offender take full responsibility for his or her life. Grant funding will be used to help eliminate stressors that can put participants in vulnerable positions causing them to re-offend and aid participants in addressing their unique needs, such as obtaining identification, birth certificates, emergency basic needs, transportation, housing, employment and educational certifications.
“Reentry Court can enrich the lives of ex-offenders and their families. As ex-offenders become productive citizens, they contribute to the community by paying taxes and supporting their families, instead of being a drain on prison, jail, law enforcement and court resources,” explained Judge Tammy O’Brien, one of the three presiding Reentry Court Judges.
Reentry Judge Alison McCarty added, “The judges are so grateful to the ADM Board for the opportunity to provide meaningful, collateral support to our Reentry Court participants – many of them are working very hard to reintegrate into society and face many obstacles. This funding will help us to target problem areas and reward individuals who are doing well in the program.”