CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Ohio has opened a multi-agency, multiservice facility aimed at helping prison inmates better reintegrate into society, part of a series of state efforts to shrink the prison population by lowering the number of repeat offenders.
The center at Ross Correctional Institution in Chillicothe houses the Ohio Adult Parole Authority, Alvis House, the day reporting program of the Ross County sheriff, and EXIT, a halfway house for former offenders.
The facility which opened Friday about 50 miles south of Columbus is named for Terry Collins, who retired as director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in 2010 after a 32-year prisons career.
“My goal was to keep people out of prison and save money for education and others things,” Collins said at the opening of the facility, a former prison camp. “We want to provide an opportunity for them to change ... and become productive members of society.”
The center will house a variety of treatment and education programs with inmates also working with gardens and as beekeepers, with some food to be donated to a local food bank, the Columbus Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/1qRxYEu).
“We’re going to turn out a lot of good citizens,” said Denise Robinson president and chief executive officer of Alvis House, which provides residential programs, job training, and family programs to help ex-offenders transition back to the world outside prison walls.
Alvis House has 64 beds in the Collins facility and will serve 14 counties. Inmates will stay there four to six months while leaving to work each day.
Inmates performed 18,000 hours of skilled construction work to convert the former camp located outside the main prison fence.
“The value of the center is our ability to share resources,” said Ross County Deputy Sheriff Matt Large. “We don’t have to have redundant programs.”
In March, the state announced an inmate return rate of 27.1 percent, down from 28.7 percent a year ago, attributing the drop to community programs that work with newly released offenders and new prison units that prepare people for life outside bars.