Source: (2003) Corrections Today Magazine. 65(5): 52-54

Through an examination of Ohio’s offender re-entry plan, the article underscores the importance of a broad systems approach for helping offenders successfully re-integrate into their communities. Re-entry programs should ideally begin as soon as an offender is incarcerated and last all the way through release and into community re-integration. Ohio’s re-entry plan is highlighted because it underscores the importance of community support to the successful re-entry of ex-offenders. One specific aspect of Ohio’s plan is the development of citizen circles. The idea behind citizen circles is that ex-offenders have a better shot of remaining offense-free after release if they feel they are a welcome and valued member of their community. In order to facilitate community involvement, citizen circles embrace community agencies and local citizens in the decisionmaking and case management of ex-offenders. They work by accepting, via application, ex-offenders who are either incarcerated, under community supervision, or living in half-way houses or community-based correctional facilities. Circle accountability plans are formed that address job seeking, education, family issues, mental health, substance abuse, attitude, social interactions, community service, housing, and spiritual needs. While a program evaluation has not taken place as of yet, it is expected that those ex-offenders involved with citizen circles will have lower recidivism rates and higher employment rates when compared with ex-offenders who are not involved with such programs. Abstract courtesy of National Crimnal Justice Reference Service,