Hamilton Co. unveils re-entry plan for ex-offenders

HAMILTON COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - Bryant Gains says re-entering society was tough after spending more than eight years in prison. Gains says when he got out he didn't have any resources nor did he know where to turn to get help.

Gains is just one of some 2,700 prison inmates released into Hamilton County every year.

Hamilton County is launching a new re-entry program designed to provide ex-offenders with one place where they can get help finding housing, jobs, medical care and other assistance.

"Currently our service providers are splintered throughout the community," said DeAnna Hoskins, who heads up the county's office of re-entry.

Hoskins says the re-entry program will operate out of the Super Jobs center on Central Parkway.

"They have one point of entry to get the information they need to how to re-engage...whether they're seeking housing, whether they're seeking assistance the can come here to get the information that they need," said Hoskins.

County Commission Chairman Greg Hartmann says meeting the needs of ex-offenders also benefits the taxpayers.

"By preventing recidivism...I mean...everybody knows and its been well documented of the fact that we've got limited jail space. So we've got to re-think how we deal with criminal justice issues and this is one way," he said.

Stephen Tucker with the Urban League says there's a correlations between unemployment and crime.

"Unemployed ex-offenders are two-thirds more likely to re-offend and to go back into incarceration, but if we have systems designed to help them get employment, to help them get housing...transportation they'll be less likely to re-offend," said Tucker.

Monica Roberts with the Healing Center says a key component to employment is getting ex-offenders ready for the job market.

"It's about how you present yourself, what someone wears to an interview, how to answer common interview questions, how they specifically respond to questions surrounding their incarceration...all those are skills that can be taught....and just matching folks up with programs that can help them do that," said Roberts.

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