New Court Program Aims to Stop Revolving Prison Door

Re-Entry Docket Safely Transitions Non-Violent Offenders Back into the Community

The Hamilton County Office of Reentry is teaming up with the Court of Common Pleas to announce the formation of a new court program aimed at reducing recidivism and strengthening public safety. The Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Re-Entry Docket is a newly created specialty program for low-level, non-violent offenders who voluntarily ask for help transitioning from state prison back into the community.

Under the leadership of the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners, Common Pleas Presiding Judge Terry Nestor and Judge Wende C. Cross, who will be the Re-Entry Court Judge, this focused docket will help reduce recidivism rates, provide cost-effective measures to local taxpayers, and will encourage a broad-based coalition to support the successful re-integration of offenders into the community.

"Our court has traditionally been very responsive to the needs of the community," said Judge Cross. "This new initiative is simply an extension of that responsiveness in which judges are actively involved in overseeing the transition of the offender from a dysfunctional member of society to a productive member of society."

The average cost to incarcerate one inmate at the Hamilton County Justice Center is $26,000 annually. The estimated cost increases to $26,365 in Ohio prisons.

"This program has the potential to save taxpayers significant amounts of money by stopping the revolving door while protecting our community to ensure offenders have the social, mental and economic supports in place so they don’t end up back in the system," said Trina Jackson, Director of the Hamilton County Office of Reentry.

The Office of Reentry coordinates with the court, the probation department, and community partners to establish a re-entry plan, coordinate services and provide data tracking. Returning citizens in the program who are on probation in Hamilton County will take a step-down approach with bi-weekly check-ins with the judge, then monthly check-ins with the judge, and finally a 45-day check-in with the judge.

The Re-Entry Docket is expected to be up and running in the fall of 2022.

Hamilton County joins other Ohio counties currently offering Reentry Courts or Dockets including Cuyahoga, Lucas, Stark, and Summit Counties. Hamilton County also has other specialized dockets offering a therapeutically-oriented judicial approach such as Mental Health Court, Veterans Treatment, and Hamilton County Drug Court- the first of its kind in Ohio.

About the Office of Reentry

The Hamilton County Office of Reentry is an award-winning program, under the Board of County Commissioners, that provides referrals and support services to individuals returning to the community from correctional facilities. The Office of Reentry’s mission is to promote collaborative services for all returning citizens by identifying common barriers, advocating for community resources, and offering a network of support.

Posted on 06/28/2022