Montgomery County Prison Reentry Program Shows Success, Officials say
A Montgomery County program aimed at helping people returning from prison reintegrate into society and find steady employment is showing promise. That was the message from Montgomery County corrections officials at an event held Friday at the University of Dayton.
The Reentry Career Alliance Academy program launched in 2015, and data show it’s dramatically reduced the number of ex-offenders who end up back behind bars within three years.
Graduate Mary Sanders-Yaqeen recently completed a 10-year prison sentence at the Dayton Correctional Institution. She says people returning from incarceration deserve a second chance.
“Because, if society keeps alienating a person that’s been to prison, then what is that person going to do? They’re going to stay with what they know. But if you reach a hand out and allow them to grab it, nine out of 10 of them is going to grab the hand. And that’s my goal –– to help my sisters that are still there [incarcerated] obtain their footing, like somebody had to help me,” Sanders-Yaqueen says.
Ex-offenders must remain drug-free in order to qualify for job-placement services through the program.
Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman says assisting returning ex-offenders with the services they need to find work or education and stay out of prison for good makes fiscal sense, noting the Reentry Career Alliance Academy spends less than $1,000 per person, compared to the approximately $25,000 per year it costs to incarcerate one inmate.
The program is part of the county's Office of Reentry, which launched in 2010 with the help of a federal grant. It's now funded through the county Human Services Planning and Development Department.
Of 409 Reentry Career Alliance Academy graduates between 2015 and 2018, county officials say fewer than 5 percent have gone on to reoffend.
This is compared to a typical recidivism rate of nearly 30 percent in Montgomery County, and statewide, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Read more about the Montgomery County reentry program here.