The Delaware County Re-entry Coalition hopes to get about $750,000 from a U.S. Department of Justice grant to implement a training program to reduce the number of felons committing new crimes.

The Delaware County Re-entry Coalition hopes to get about $750,000 from a U.S. Department of Justice grant to implement a training program to reduce the number of felons committing new crimes.

The application for The Second Chance Act Adult Offender Re-entry Program for Planning and Demonstration Projects is due June 30. Funding comes from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance. The county would have to match half, or $375,000 of the total funds, $187,500 of which would have to be cash and the remainder of which could be in-kind.

The Re-entry Coalition, in operation for two years, currently is funded through an Edward Byrne Memorial Grant from the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services. The Second Chance Act grant would enable the coalition to start providing services, said Re-entry Coalition coordinator Patricia Clements.

"The goal is to keep folks out of public incarceration," Clements said. The program would last for one year, and after that the coalition would seek out additional options for ongoing funding.

Clements said the coalition likely won't know until this fall if the grant is received. If it is, the coalition would start its program in January.

The funding would allow for a 22-week training program for offenders. Clements said she anticipates about 100 program participants for 2012. All participants would be Delaware County residents between the ages of 18 and 60, who are assessed by the Ohio Risk Assessment System as moderate to high risk to commit new crimes. The target population would be those who have committed felonies and are incarcerated in state institutions or the county jail. Offenders would need to apply to be chosen.

In training, participants would address anger management, learn to deal with disappointment and restructure their thinking regarding how they make choices and select peers, Clements said.

Grant funds would allow Clements to become the program's project director. Funding also would create three case coordinator positions.

Case coordinators would contact offenders while they're incarcerated and begin doing needs assessments. Each offender would have his or her own transition plan. Once a participant is released from incarceration, case coordinators would monitor them for six months to one year.

Clements said she also plans to track an offender's ability to acquire and keep a job, to maintain stable housing, to follow through with mental health or substance abuse treatments and parenting.

Grant funds also would go toward training local organizations in how to interact and provide evidence-based practices in dealing with offenders and community outreach.

Clements said most participants would come from state penal institutions.

Pending legislation - Senate Bill 10 and House Bill 186 - would give judges the ability to sentence non-violent fourth- and fifth-degree felons to intermediate sentencing instead of prison time.

Nonviolent fourth- and fifth-degree felons would be housed in county jails, awaiting placement in treatment programs, community-based corrections facilities, reporting centers, veterans facilities, halfway houses, work release or probation. If individuals violate their terms of probation, they would be sent back to the county jail.

The Delaware County Jail population would increase by 37 percent if the legislation is approved, sheriff Walter Davis has estimated.

Clements said the recidivism rate is based on how many offenders return to prison within one year of release for conviction of a new crime or a technical violation of their parole. While no recidivism statistics are available for the jail, Clements said "we anticipate that that number is high."

The recidivism rate for Delaware Countians returning to state institutions was 37.2 percent in 2007 and 38.6 percent in 2008. Drug abuse, inability to pay child support and unemployment are the major factors that contribute to recidivism.