This Second Chance Month, The Council of State Governments Justice Center staff asked governors from states across the country why reentry is important to them and the communities they govern. Below, find Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s reasons why #ReentryMatters.
What does reentry mean to you?
Reentry is about ensuring enhanced public safety, a good quality of life, and the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of citizenship for Ohioans that have paid their debt to society. I believe that everyone—no matter where they were born or who their parents are—deserves the chance to succeed, to get a good-paying job, to raise a family, and to be secure in their future.
In the past decade, what progress have you seen in your state regarding reentry?
Over the past decade, we have come to understand that successful reentry requires a partnership between criminal justice agencies and local communities. In Ohio, we have been fortunate to see the growth of such partnerships between state entities and local coalitions, who have been the driving force in addressing the barriers and challenges for those returning home from incarceration. These efforts have resulted in increased treatment programs, education, employment preparation, and employment services.
What issue—or issues—related to reentry do you want to address in your state in 2019?
As Governor, I want to implement a strategy that will expand Ohio’s capacity for treating adults struggling with addiction and mental health issues. My operating budget provides resources directly to local communities to make systemic changes to help prevent and treat substance use disorders and support recovery.
In addition, I plan to increase the number of specialty docket drug courts across Ohio to get people who have committed nonviolent crimes due to their addiction into drug treatment and out of jail.
Family engagement initiatives need to be a priority for us. I want to ensure Ohio’s children have chances for success in life. We know that having an incarcerated parent can diminish chances for a child’s future success, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We hope that increased opportunities for connection with their incarcerated parent can level the playing field for these children.
My vision for Ohio’s future is to give opportunity to every kid in Ohio.
Together, we will also embark on an aggressive workforce development and worker retraining effort by investing in career-tech centers and two-year community colleges to create at least 10,000 industry certificates.
Why should an average citizen in your state, not necessarily connected to any part of the criminal justice system, care about reentry?
Every citizen in the state benefits when a person comes out of prison as a healthy and productive member of society. The truth is this: the vast majority of people who are currently incarcerated in our state will be released back to their community at some point. These men and women are returning to Ohio communities—every community. If they are prohibited from housing, from employment, from addiction services, then they are at risk to continue to do those things that led to their incarceration in the first place and recidivate.
If you could say something directly to a person on the verge of leaving prison or jail and reentering society, what would you tell them?
Ohio is a second chance state. It is my hope that you will take advantage of this opportunity and avail yourself to the vast array of systems and supportive services that can contribute to your success. Your success is everyone’s success.
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