In their view


There aren't many re-entry courts in Ohio -- just three pioneering courts, including the Cuyahoga County Re-entry Court, run by Common Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo.

But these courts could make a bigger difference in Ohio if the state legislature would take the handcuffs off and let them help more felons move from an expensive, corrosive prison system to early release and a court-supervised system of work, school and family.

That's the message from Russo and Gary Mohr, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction...

The two have become cheerleaders for rehabilitation and correction.

Mohr, who administers an Ohio prison system with a population that has soared past the 50,000 mark, has opened several reintegration units. These help select inmates to be prepared for the real world, and engage them in jobs or community service...

Mohr and Russo believe that prison and court programs are at their best when they help inmates get the skills they need to make a permanent break from a life of crime....

(Russo) estimates that the early release program has saved the state about $27 million over five years -- she calls that a conservative figure -- and that the program has achieved an 84 percent success rate in its three years....

Her recommendations should be the subject of vigorous debate.

The Plain Dealer

Cleveland, Ohio

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