- Maria Ford
Level the Playing Field
In the last month, news of racial injustice, gun violence, and a myriad of other crises have dominated the national headlines. Media conglomerates in Central Ohio, meanwhile, have chosen to single out specific types of justice-involved citizens by way of highlighting one or two criminogenic narratives, portraying them as the prevailing pattern, and generating fear and interest. It has long been the practice of the general public, and sadly even some community agencies, to pick and choose which types of criminal offenses can be deemed "worthy" of a second chance. Much like the grace many of us learn about in the church pew every weekend, however, when the gates of the prison open, the debt has been paid. Society is made stronger and safer not by excluding certain types of offenses from aide, but by guaranteeing equitable reentry practices for anyone seeking them. For over a decade, this has been the mission of the members of the Central Ohio Restored Citizens' Collaborative.
For the next month, restorative and social justice experts across the country will be celebrating April as Second Chance month. But for who? Everyone? When we pick and choose who gets to come to the table for assistance we further "other" the citizen returning to society hoping for a better life. As Central Ohio prepares for National Reentry Week at the end of the month, a focus of reentry equity is essential. Regardless of the worst decision someone made in their life, the need to level the playing field and create greater access to services remains an area of great improvement in many sectors of reentry. To the many members of CORCC and agencies across the country who see the reason for the need and not the reason for "the number" we thank you for your model of humanity. Both in Second Chance Month, and all year long, we remain committed to carrying the torch as we pursue the light of true restoration for all those we serve. These stories may not make the evening news, but they will be remembered by those that live them every day.