Ex-offenders with severe mental illness and developmental disabilities are getting help from a project aimed at keeping them healthy and stable, according to Ohio prison officials.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections said helping disadvantaged, newly released offenders find adequate housing would reduce the state’s recidivism rate, which would bring down prison costs.
In 2004, the ODRC started the Returning Home Ohio project to target the right people for supportive housing, find them a stable home and coordinate the services they need, the Huffington Post reports.
The department of corrections evaluated the program this year, and found that it successfully identifies and assists disadvantaged ex-offenders who need the extra help to stay out of prison.
A major factor contributing to the program’s success is the commitment from state leadership. Despite the state having had three governors and four directors of the ODRC since the program’s inception, the program has remained stable and received consistent support from the highest levels of the criminal justice system, including an Ohio Supreme Court Justice.
Another strength of the Returning Home Ohio project, according to the report, is that it involves coordination across state agencies, including the criminal justice, housing and behavioral health agencies.
In addition to the internal evaluation, the program is being thoroughly evaluated by third-party researchers at the Urban Institute, which studies social issues in America.