Criminal Justice, Jobs and Reconciliation

In their 2000 statement, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, the U.S. bishops encouraged Catholics of this country to find unique ways to support the victims of crime, to rehabilitate those who have committed offenses, and to restore the impacted communities.  They stated, “we seek approaches that understand crime as a threat to community, not just a violation of law; that demand new efforts to rebuild lives, not just build more prisons; and that demonstrate a commitment to re-weave a broader social fabric of respect for life, civility, responsibility, and reconciliation.”  Click here for a summary handout with reflection questions.


Archdiocese Prison Ministry

To learn more about the Archdiocese’s Prison Ministry program, including how you can get involved, please visit www.catholiccincinnatiprisonmission.com


The Dismas* Journey

At their February 2011 Congress, the Advocates for Justice Greater Cincinnati Parish Collaborative voted to promote ways that parishes can help citizens returning from prison reintegrate back into society.  To accomplish this, the Criminal Justice Task Force has designed a guided-dialogue process, called “The Dismas* Journey: The Road to Restoration and the Common Good,” that can be hosted by any parish community to facilitate interaction among parishioners, ex-offenders, and the agencies supporting them.  Through these discussions, parishioners can learn more about some of the challenges returning citizens face, after having served their debt to society, to finding employment and self-sufficiency.  Together, we can work to reduce recidivism and increase safety for all.  These converations are being developed by parishioners, including those active in prison ministry, the AMOS Project (a social justice, congregation-based coalition that includes nine Catholic parishes and religious communities), and the HELP Program (a ministry for ex-offenders directed by Marianist Brother Mike Murphy).  The process includes prayer, reflections on Scripture and Church teaching, dialogue with those formerly incarcerated and the agencies supporting them, and possible next steps.   Please contact us, if your parish might be interested in hosting a dialogue.

*“Dismas” is the name Christian tradition has given to the forgiven, “good thief” crucified with Jesus, and it is a reference used by several ex-offender reentry programs throughout the country.


Statement of Support from Archbishop Dennis Schnurr

Healing from the impacts of crime and its aftermath today requires unique approaches. His Holiness Pope John Paul II observed:

We are still a long way from the time when our conscience can be certain of having done everything possible to prevent crime and to control it effectively so that it no longer does harm and, at the same time, to offer to those who commit crimes a way of redeeming themselves and making a positive return to society. (Message for the Jubilee in Prisons, 2000)

In their statement, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, the bishops of this country expressed that a Catholic response to crime requires “justice, contrition, reparation and return or reintegration of all into the community.”  Having met with and celebrated Masses for inmates in our own archdiocese, I applaud the ongoing prison ministries and victim support efforts that emanate from so many Catholic parishes and agencies. In addition, the newly structured dialogues, “The Road to Restoration and the Common Good,” organized by the Archdiocesan Catholic Social Action Office, Advocates for Justice Parish Collaborative, AMOS Project and HELP Program, offer an enlightening opportunity for Cincinnati-area Catholics to listen to the stories of returning citizens, to help them become full participating members of society, and, in turn, to find ways to reduce recidivism and increase safety in our communities.

(Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, June 2011)

Healing the Harm; Healing the Heart in Dayton

A big thank you to you, if you were one of the 350 people who joined us October 16 for the Distinguished Speaker program at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church in Dayton with Father David Kelley and the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation.  Together we certainly learned a more loving response to criminal justice.  Father Dave and the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation were recognized in the Chicago community for their outstanding work in bringing together youths of different gangs and backgrounds into healing peace circles and also for providing restorative and competency-buildign after-school programs for youth.  You can read an article Fr. Dave wrote on the connection between the blood that pours out ont he street through violence and the Precious Blood of the Eucharist.  See Sustained by the Blood.

The Restorative Justice Committee of the Weavers of Justice researched and compiled a brochure to help readers understand the concept and find resource materials on restorative justice.  The brochure is in a PDF format.

Ohio Criminal Justice Information

Below are some statistics gathered from to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC).  For a more complete “Snapshot of Incarcerations and Reentry in Ohio,” click here.

  • In FY2010, a total of $1.672 billion was spent on Ohio’s prison system.  The average cost per inmate is about $24,000 with an average stay of about 2 years.
  • As of December 2010, there were 50,993 inmates (47,036 males and 3,957 females) in Ohio’s 31 prisons.  There are 38,389 beds available, creating an overcrowding rate of 133%.
  • There are 3 prisons in the boundaries of the Archdiocese, Lebenon Correctional Institution and Warren Correctional Institution in Warren County and Dayton Correctional Institution/Montgomery County Education and Pre-Release Center in Montgomery County.
  • In Calendar Year 2010, 23,191 offenders were committed to the state prison system (20,155 males; 3,036 females).  The five counties in the Archdiocese with the highest proportions of committed inmates are Hamilton County with 2,083 (8.98% of all state commitments), Montgomery County 1,210 (5.22%), Butler County 744 (3.21%), Clark County 424 (1.83%), and Clermont County 399 (1.72%).
  • By race, 54.7% of inmates committed in 2010 were White, 42.7% were Black, 2.3% were Hispanic, and 0.3% were “Other”.
  • By felony, 26% of offenders were committed for drug offenses, 26% for crimes against persons (e.g. robbery, domestic violence, etc.), 10% for burglary, 15% for property related offenses, and 7% for sex offenses.
  • The recidivism rate from 2007 to 2010 is 34 percent of those having been released returning back to prison.
  • Ohio has 20 community-based correction facilities (6 serving the 19 counties within the Archdiocese) and 23 halfway houses (6 in the Archdiocese boundaries).  According to a 2010 study by the University of Cincinnati, commissioned by DRC, new felony convictions for high-risk offenders who completed a program with a community-based correction facility were reduced by 13.4% and by 14.1% for those completing a halfway house.
  • There were 86 reentry programs throughout the state for returning citizens.  Some effective efforts administered by DRC for returning citizens to find employment and reintegrate into the community include Offender Network for Employment, Work Opportunity Tax Credit, Federal Bonding Program, and Citizen Circles (one of which is run by the CCHD-funded agency Good Samaritan Home in Darke County).
  • In FY2010, there were 10,116 volunteers offering positive support to inmates, including 8,121 for religious purposes.