Re-Entry Court Printer Friendly Version
Cuyahoga County Re-entry Court
Implemented in 2007 and funded through the Office of Criminal
Justice Services is a specialized docket presided over by Judge Nancy Margaret Russo established to
address the needs of offenders transitioning from prison back to the community.
"Beginning at sentencing and extending beyond release,
Re-Entry will assess, identify and link offenders with services specific to their needs in
order to reduce the likelihood of additional criminal behavior."- The ODRC Mission
Re-Entry Court Contact Information:
Presiding Judge: Nancy Margaret Russo 443-8688
Supervisor: Maria Nemec 443-5076
Probation Officer: Amanda LaBanc 443-8877
What Re-Entry Court Does
The Cuyahoga County Re-entry Court provides intensive programming and supervision to eligible offenders
by preparing case plans that center on specific offender needs such as education, employment, housing,
substance abuse and mental health treatment, thereby providing the best possible opportunities to
succeed after their release. REEC uses the power of judicial authority to aggressively monitor
released offenders to increase public safety and links offenders to agencies and community
organizations that provide needed services.
To be considered offenders should:
- Be eligible for judicial release as defined by O.R.C. 2929-20 v.
- Be sentenced in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court with a felony conviction
- Reside in Cuyahoga County upon release from prison
- Have no more than two prior state or federal prison commitments
- Have no pending felony charges
- Are not currently incarcerated for a weapons related offense
- Have no outstanding warrants other than minor traffic offenses
- Have no sex offense convictions
- Are not currently serving time on more than two concurrent cases from Cuyahoga County
can be identified at sentencing (evaluated for eligibility
prior to sentencing) or upon entry into a correctional facility in the surrounding area.
When identification and review is made in advance of release, which is the preferred method,
program staff can engage in prerelease planning while the offender is still incarcerated.
The target population
for the Re-Entry court is selected from the nonviolent general prison population
sentenced through Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court and does look closely at offenders identified as
severe threat–gang related offenders. The Re-Entry court participants are under the supervision of the
Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) in the Adult Probation Department. The Re-Entry Court offers a
coordinated, stepwise approach, requiring regular court appearances and offering services and other
incentives to increase the chances of participant success. Based on Drug Court model, a dedicated
Re-Entry Court Docket Judge manages the caseload and requires participants to attend regular court
appearances (status hearings), participate in required treatment, trainings, needed ancillary services,
and urine testing. Judicial release is the mechanism to transfer offenders into the Re-Entry court
is the mechanism to transfer offenders into the Re-Entry Court program. A public
defender or private attorney will prepare a request for judicial release. The original sentencing judge
will hold a judicial release hearing or should the sentencing judge consider Re-Entry Court, the
sentencing judge may transfer the case/jurisdiction to the Re-entry Court Judge to hold both the judicial
release hearing and admission to RE-Entry Court the Re-Entry Court. The sentencing judge forwards the case
to the Administrative Judge for assignment to the Re-Entry Court docket. The Re-entry Court judge assumes
all jurisdiction of the case.
Offenders complete a Re-Entry Court Application which is made available to the offenders in prison or to attorneys on the court
website. Once an application is received, it is reviewed in a two-phase process. The first phase consists of
preliminary screening to determine if the applicant meets minimum eligibility criteria. All applications meeting
minimum criteria are sent to the Re-Entry Court Judge with case information. The Re-Entry Court Judge reviews the case
information and makes a decision if the case will go forward for Phase Two review. If the case is considered for further
review, additional information is gathered: Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI), record check, and an institutional summary.
When a decision is made whether or not to accept an applicant into Re-Entry Court, the sentencing judge is notified.
When the defendant has been accepted into Re-Entry Court, a journal entry will indicate that an offender has been reviewed
for the Re-Entry Court. The sentencing judge may rule on any of the following:
- Grant judicial release
- Deny judicial release
- Grant judicial release and Re-Entry Court (a decision is also made if the case jurisdiction is to remain with the sentencing judge or transfer to the Re-Entry judge)
- Grant judicial release and deny Re-Entry Court
Re-Entry Case Plan
A Re-Entry Case Plan is prepared on all offenders admitted to
Re-Entry Court. The plan address criminogenic needs, including dynamic risk factors in the following
- Associates/social interaction
- Substance abuse
- Community functioning
- Personal emotional orientation
Intensive Supervision Program
The Re-Entry Court participants are under the supervision of the Intensive Supervision Program (ISP)
in the Adult Probation Department. In preparation for release, the Re-Entry Program ISP Supervision
Officer will assist with securing stable housing. Once the offender is released, supervision will
include face-to-face visits, collateral contacts and home visits. The Re-Entry Court participant
will be required to abide by the rules of probation as well as the individualized Re-Entry Court
Plan. The Re-Entry Court Team does convene regularly to discuss the status of each participant.
Team review provides input for status hearings held regularly to address meeting Re-Entry plan goals
and review successful participation and compliance. Status hearings are held according to a graduated
program schedule requiring fewer hearings as progress is made through the program. Non-compliance or
failure to make progress in attaining program goals can result in a violation hearing.
Criteria for successful program completion:
- Complete a minimum of one year in the program
- Complete Re-Entry plan goals
- Remain drug-free and crime-free for the last 90 days or more before graduation
- Maintain verifiable, stable residence for a minimum of 90 days prior to completion of program
- Maintain gainful employment or provide verification for legal source of income 90 days prior to completion
Criteria for unsuccessful program completion:
- Failure to complete the Re-Entry plan
- Continued drug use
- Conviction for new felony offense
Re-Entry Court Program Model
The Cuyahoga County Adult Re-Entry Court specifically addresses the core elements in the Office of Justice Program’s model as follows:
Assessment and Planning – The Re-Entry Program Probation Officer will provide tracking, coordinates
prison screening, identifies eligible inmates, conducts prison site visit and/or video conferencing
for early screening and assessment, prepares a Re-Entry plan for each offender identifying needed
services (e.g., employment, housing, treatment, mental health, vocational training, family counseling).
Active oversight - A dedicated Re-Entry Court Judge conducts regular status hearings
and team meetings. The judge requires participants to submit to urinalysis testing on a frequent or
random basis, no less than one time per week, throughout program participation. Participants meet
frequently with the Probation Officer to develop and carry out goal-oriented treatment plans tailored
for individual care. The Re-Entry Court Probation Officer refers individuals to an array of supportive services
(e.g., substance abuse and mental health treatment, employment, housing, job training, family counseling,
education health care). A strong field component is in place for community surveillance and monitoring to
increase public safety.
Accountability to community - The Program provides accountability to the community
through the Re-Entry Court Advisory Board, collection of restitution, child support, and development of
initiatives to ensure offenders are held accountable both to victims and the community. The
collaboration includes the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, Board of County Commissioners, County
Prosecutor, Public Defender, Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board of Cuyahoga County, Cuyahoga
County Community Mental Health Board, Cuyahoga County Office of Re-Entry, Ohio Department of
Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC), Ohio Adult Parole Authority (Cleveland Region) (APA), City of
Cleveland, Office of Health and Human Services and local service providers.
Graduated and parsimonious sanctions – The Re-Entry Court judge uses a range of
sanctions for violations on conditions of release, which are swift, predictable, and universally applied. Sanctions are issued by the judge according to a progressive schedule matched to the level of non-compliance.
Rewards for Success - The Re-Entry Court Judge will use positive judicial re-enforcement to reward successful behavior.