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Montgomery County Expands Services For Ex-Offenders With New Reentry Center

Chanelle Gilmore sought help with reentry after serving time in the Montgomery County Jail and says a counselor helped her reconnect with her children and other family members.
Jess Mador
Chanelle Gilmore sought help with reentry after serving time in the Montgomery County Jail and says a counselor helped her reconnect with her children and other family members.

People returning to Dayton from incarceration will now have access to more help reentering society. Montgomery County officials Wednesday cut the ribbon on a new, dedicated Reentry Training Center offering intensive job-preparation classes and job placement, housing and other assistance.

Federal Judge Walter H. Rice of the Southern District of Ohio, says these kinds of services are shown to be highly effective in helping many ex-offenders become productive citizens.

"Many, many landlords will not rent to persons with felony records. People, many times, will not rent, will not offer jobs to persons coming home, either because of their backgrounds or because their insurance carriers make the premiums prohibitive," Rice says.

Judge Walter H. Rice.
Credit Jess Mador / WYSO
Judge Walter H. Rice.

"If a person has no place to live, if a person can't find work, it is inevitable that they may well turn to what they know best, which is unfortunately criminal activity, even though 99 percent of the people who come home want to do the right thing and they certainly don't want to return to prison.”

Montgomery County’s new Reentry Training Center is located within The Job Center on Edwin C. Moses Blvd. in Dayton.

The center expands upon reentry services already offered by the county, which numbers show have been effective at reducing recidivism rates from more than 30 percent to as low as 5 percent.

Milan Vaughn, who lives in Dayton, says he benefited from reentry assistance when he was released from the Madison Correctional Institution state prison in January after serving a three-year sentence.

He recently got his drivers license back.

"No matter how hard you want to do something different and how prepared you think you are, it's going to be rough when you come home. There are going to be people who are not going to want to hire you. There are going to be places that say they hire felons, but they are going to pick and choose who they want to hire," Vaughn says. "So, it's a rough road." 

Vaughn is currently doing construction and roofing work. He says he's hoping to transition into a business-related career field. 

"Trying to get people to accept me as equal, it's hard," he says.

Between 1,200 and 1,500 people return each year to Montgomery County from state and federal prison facilities. The center is available to anyone who has come through the justice system.

Graduates of the center's four-week pre-employment class who remain drug-free are also eligible to be recommended for employment.

Read more about Montgomery County's reentry services here.  

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Jess Mador comes to WYSO from Knoxville NPR-station WUOT, where she created an interactive multimedia health storytelling project called TruckBeat, one of 15 projects around the country participating in AIR's Localore: #Finding Americainitiative. Before TruckBeat, Jess was an independent public radio journalist based in Minneapolis. She’s also worked as a staff reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio in the Twin Cities, and produced audio, video and web stories for a variety of other news outlets, including NPR News, APM, and PBS television stations. She has a Master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. She loves making documentaries and telling stories at the intersection of journalism, digital and social media.