Ex-offenders, who used to get little in the way of help upon their release from prison, can take advantage of a broad range of support services funded by grants to help them adjust to an unfamiliar society outside prison walls. Job skills training and counseling are just two of the services offered to Ohio ex-offenders by way of federal legislation.
Ohio's Reentry Coalition
In 2008, the Ohio legislature introduced the Reentry Coalition in an attempt to reduce by 50 percent the number of ex-offenders who return to a life of crime. The legislation invited community organizations, service providers, local governments and interested individuals to participate in Coalition meetings, according to Ohio's state website. The key element of the legislation is to remove the barriers to employment many ex-offenders face upon release, specifically by stating that a felony conviction does not itself constitute a legitimate reason for denying employment. The Coalition offers grant funding to local agencies that administer services to ex-offenders.
The Reintegration of Ex-Offenders -- Adult Program Grants
Nonprofit faith-based groups and other community organizations can apply for the federal government's program as well. The grant requires that applicants "be located in or have existing staff presence" in areas rife with crime and poverty, according to Grants.gov. The grant must be used for job training, including preparation, mentoring programs, housing, and substance abuse and counseling programs. "Green" jobs are a particular focus of the grant, which aims to employ ex-offenders in areas of demand.
Ohio's Local Coalitions
Ohio has several local coalitions located across the state that administer state, federal and private grants by providing services to ex-offenders. Each correctional institution has a reentry coordinator that assists ex-offenders with the transition back to society, although these positions are not grant-funded. The state is divided into seven regions -- Lima, Mansfield, Cleveland, Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus and Chillicothe. Prior to an offender's release, the adult parole authority will refer him to one of the local coalition offices located within the seven regions. The coalition staff advises the offender what services are available to him in the region, in addition to providing support to the offender's family.
The Federal Bonding Program
The U.S. Department of Labor initiated the Federal Bonding Program in 1966 as a way to insure employers against the risk of hiring an ex-offender. Because lack of employment is a major contributing factor to recidivism, having ex-offenders bonded increases the likelihood that they won't return to a life of crime. In addition to ex-offenders, the program also assists recovering substance abusers and other at-risk candidates. Should the at-risk employee slip back into a life of crime, the federal government pays the bond to the employer on behalf of the offender.
Lisa Bigelow is an independent writer with prior professional experience in the finance and fitness industries. She also writes a well-regarded political commentary column published in Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester counties in the New York City metro area.