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Crime and Courts


Ohio's U.S. Sen Portman touts reauthorization of his inmate reentry program
Portman tours Northeast Ohio corrections and reentry facilities
by WKSU's KEVIN NIEDERMIER


Reporter
Kevin Niedermier
 
Sen. Rob Portman tours the North Star Neighborhood Reentry Resource Center in Cleveland. The facility receives funding from Portman's Second Chance Act, and has helped nearly 17,000 ex-offenders who have returned to Cuyahoga County since 2010.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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Ohio Sen. Rob Portman says his program to help inmates successfully reenter society has saved millions of tax dollars and should be reauthorized this year. The Republican was in Northeast Ohio today to talk about his Second Chance Act.

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Nearly 50 percent of the people released from U.S. prisons go back within two to three years. But Ohio’s recidivism rate is about half the national average. Sen. Portman says the 2008 reentry assistance program he drafted with the late Cleveland Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones has helped lower those numbers. It funds state and local programs for job training, finding housing and other programs. At Cleveland’s North Star Neighborhood Reentry Center, Portman says the GOP’s push to get tougher on crime has added prisoners, but there’s more to the recidivism problem.

“The higher prison population is due, in part, to the mandatory sentencing, but this recidivism problem is deeper than that. It goes to people getting out of prison, sometimes with just the clothes on their backs, 5 bucks in their pockets and a bus pass. Without job skills, and unfortunately often with substance abuse problems -- drugs and alcohol and sometimes mental health problems -- they get back into a life of crime.”

Besides pushing reauthorization of his Second Chance Act, Portman is co-sponsoring legislation that would allow inmates to earn sentence reductions by completing programs to help them successfully reenter society.

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