Posted: 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013

Officials tout progam that helps ex-offenders find jobs

By Kelli Wynn

Staff Writer

Dayton —

The recidivism rate for the approximately 1,400 individuals who sought the service of the Montgomery County Office of Ex-Offender Reentry Office is currently 9.3 percent, which is far below the countywide rate, according to the office’s policy board.

This was one of the announcements made during a Wednesday press conference held by reentry office leaders to highlight the success of the program and encourage employers to hire ex-offenders who are seeking to change their lives and be productive members of society.

“People return home most often with the best of intentions, only to find insurmountable barriers facing them,” said U.S. District Court Judge Walter Rice, who is co-chair of the Montgomery County Ex-Offender Reentry Policy Board. “Whether it’s lack of education, employment, housing, access to social services and the like.”

The grant-funded Montgomery County Ex-Offender Reentry Office opened in December of 2010 after county officials started studying recidivism within the county and tried to come up with a way to help ex-offenders make a smooth transition back into society, according to Rice.

Congressman Mike Turner and Senator Rob Portman spoke at the press conference and praised the success of the country’s program.

“It’s good for taxpayers. It’s good for our communities, for the families affected. It’s also the right thing to do,” said Portman, referring to helping ex-offenders get jobs.

On an annual basis, Montgomery County sees about 1,700 people returning home from state and federal prisons, according to Rice.

In 2005, the county’s recidivism rate - rate of people coming home from prison and returning within a 3-year period - was over 44 percent, according to Rice. By the end of 2011, the county’s recidivism rate had fallen to 32 percent.

“It means that when ex-offenders partner with community resources to turn their lives around, they have a greatly enhanced chance of avoiding criminal behavior and remaining in the community,” Rice said.

“Since January 1, we have been able to effectively and successfully connect at least 10 ex-offenders to full-time jobs,” said Jamie L. Gee, manager for the Montgomery County Office of Ex-Offender Reentry.

Judi Law, owner of Judo Steel, 1526 Nicholas Road, said her employees who are ex-offenders have a good work ethic.

“They know what it’s like to be on the streets, with a record and trying to find a job,” she said.


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