hands hanging outside a jail cell

Reducing number of repeat offenders by improving re-entry system

$1 million federal grant seeks to aid inmates re-entering society

People who re-enter society from prison with unresolved issues are more likely to commit more crime and head right back to jail, according to government statistics.

A new partnership between the Case Western Reserve University School of Law and Cuyahoga County, funded by a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, was designed to address inmates’ barriers to re-entry and help them successfully acclimate to society.

The Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry will serve as the centralized coordinating and convening agency help remove barriers to individuals returning from incarceration. In keeping with its mission, the Office of Reentry (OOR) is working toward the establishment of a “Second Chance Reentry Law Clinic” in collaboration with the law school at Case Western Reserve. Other partners include Neighborhood Reentry Resource Center (NRRC), Community Assessment and Treatment Services (CATS) and Towards Employment (TE) whose roles under the grant are aimed to:

  • Address health and homelessness, which are barriers affecting reentry.
  • Launching a trauma-informed care post-release program.
  • Establishing a social enterprise business focused on providing opportunities to the formerly incarcerated.

More than 300 men and women at medium to high risk of re-offending—largely under post-release control—will be served through the initiative. That includes those on parole or probation, and re-entering Cuyahoga County from selected Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) prisons and the Cuyahoga County jails.

CWRU Law’s Milton A Kramer Law Clinic will create the Second Chance Reentry Law Clinic to assist returning citizens deal with a variety of collateral legal issues that resulted from their incarceration.

The clinic, led by a full-time faculty member with practical experience dealing with reentrants and the legal issues they face, will operate as a part of the teaching-law firm within the law school. Law students, under the direction of that faculty member, will represent clients and client groups whose limited financial resources makes hiring a lawyer  impossible.

“The goal of this initiative includes reducing recidivism and creating safer neighborhoods,” said Laura McNally-Levine, the law school’s associate dean for experiential education and director of the Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic Center.

“We want to improve the overall re-entry network through better coordination and collaboration,” she said. “Our role in this project is to identify gaps in legal services that create barriers to successful employment and stable housing options for individuals post-release.”

For more information, contact Colin McEwen at Colin.McEwen@case.edu