The U.S. Attorney's Office observes Reentry Week
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio is observing National Reentry Week with a variety of activities designed to remove barriers for those returning to society after prison.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Monday participated in the announcement that the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority and Legal Aid Society of Cleveland will be awarded $100,000 to address re-entry barriers for CMHA residents with criminal convictions.
The office also participated earlier this month in the Northeast Ohio Reentry Business Summit, an event that focused on the opportunities available for businesses to participate in reentry. The summit provided guidance, as well as legal advice, tax credit information and real-life examples of the rewards, both personal and professional, in hiring our returning citizens and building stronger neighborhoods.
The Office also participated in Reentry Courts in all four of our courthouses – Cleveland, Toledo, Akron and Youngstown.
“Too often, justice-involved individuals who have paid their debt to society confront daunting obstacles to good jobs, decent housing, adequate health care, quality education, and even the right to vote,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “National Reentry Week highlights the many ways that the Department of Justice – and the entire Obama Administration – is working to tear down the barriers that stand between returning citizens and a meaningful second chance – leading to brighter futures, stronger communities, and a more just and equal nation for all.”
“We have long seen having meaningful re-entry activities as being just as important as aggressive law enforcement and crime-prevention activities,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon. “The public expects us to not only be tough on crime, but also smart on crime. Condemning someone who has paid their debt to society to a life of joblessness is not good for anyone – the returning citizen, the community or law enforcement.”
Monday’s announcement is part of the Juvenile Reentry Assistance Program (JRAP), funded through DOJ’s Second Chance Act funds. The Departments of Justice and Housing and Urban Development are teaming up to help young Americans who’ve paid their debt to society rehabilitate and reintegrate back into their communities. JRAP funding was awarded to Public Housing Agencies who have a partnership with a nonprofit legal service organization with experience providing legal services to juveniles.
Having a juvenile or a criminal record can severely limit a person’s ability to seek higher education, find good employment or secure affordable housing. Today, there are nearly 55,000 individuals under age 21 in juvenile justice facilities, and approximately 185,000 young adults aged 18 to 24 in state and federal prisons. These collateral consequences create unnecessary barriers to economic opportunity and productivity.
To help alleviate collateral consequences associated with a juvenile or criminal record, JRAP assists young people up to age 24 residing in public housing, or who would be residing in public housing but for their record, by:
Expunging, sealing, and/or correcting juvenile or adult records; as permitted by state law;
Assisting targeted youth in mitigating/preventing collateral consequences such as reinstating revoked or suspended drivers’ licenses;
Counseling regarding legal rights and obligations in searching for employment;
Providing guidance for readmission to school; and
Creating or modifying child support orders and other family law services, and more.
As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to strengthening the criminal justice system, the Department of Justice designated the week of April 24-30, 2016, as National Reentry Week.
The Obama Administration has taken major steps to make our criminal justice system fairer, more efficient and more effective at reducing recidivism and helping formerly incarcerated individuals contribute to their communities. Removing barriers to successful reentry helps formerly incarcerated individuals compete for jobs, attain stable housing, and support their families. An important part of that commitment is preparing those who have paid their debt to society for substantive opportunities beyond the prison gates, and addressing collateral consequences to successful reentry that too many returning citizens encounter.
National Reentry Week events are being planned in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. U.S. Attorney’s Offices alone are hosting over 200 events and BOP facilities are holding over 370 events.