Criminal Justice Reform

The Vincentian Ohio Action Network has prioritized criminal justice reform as a primary issue of importance to our organization. The issues of the justice system and the role it plays in creating and perpetuating poverty and a lifelong struggle to those with previous convictions has resulted in it being prioritized by all of our Think Tanks, which include many formerly incarcerated people and their families. 

History

Since 2014, VOAN has played an active and important role in organizing those most directly impacted by the justice system to advocate for change. In 2014, we formed the "Restored Citizens and Communities for Change" network in Columbus, which met monthly for three years, building a network of directly impacted people, social service providers, families of the incarcerated, and people of faith in order to study criminal justice reform issues and mobilize for change. In 2017, we shifted our focus toward building the ARCH program and brought formerly incarcerated leaders and directly impacted leaders onto our team to help develop ARCH programs.

We continue to track the barriers and needs associated with the prison system and reentry. We are now organizing formerly incarcerated people and their families in a number of other counties through our Think Tanks on Poverty. We continue mobilization in the area of policy change at the statehouse level. We maintain a network of formerly incarcerated individuals throughout Central Ohio who help provide direction and leadership in this work.

Issues

This work has included leadership in successful campaigns related to statewide issues like Ban the Box, SB 66, and driver's license privileges.  In 2017, we focused on Rehabilitation, Restoration and Redemption, holding a successful legislative luncheon which helped formerly incarcerated people and their families dialogue with legislative leaders about those who have violent criminal records. in 2018, we helped make changes to the Violent Offender Registry and helped others voice shared concerns about the Regan Tokes Legislation. We also testified in 2018 to Medicaid regarding how the proposed work restrictions for Medicaid expansion would negatively impact those with criminal convictions. We also worked with the community on Issue One, educating people about this legislation as part of GOTV as we continue to advocate for reductions in the prison population and reinvestment into the community for treatment and supportive services. 

If you are interested in becoming involved, please contact Wendy at wtarr@svdpcolumbus.org