A group of people at "The People's Reentry Assembly: Community Conversation with Local Stakeholders," talk about the needs of citizens returning to their communities after incarceration. The discussion on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, at Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry, was part of a weeklong series of events for Cuyahoga County's Reentry Week. Credit: Michele Lenni / Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry

Community organizations and Cuyahoga County’s Office of Reentry are hosting events all week to address some of the barriers people with criminal backgrounds face and to work on solutions.

Reentry week, which started Monday, includes programs already helping people reintegrate  into their community after being in jail or prison. A cooking competition Tuesday highlighted Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry’s Chopping for Change program, which offers culinary training to people serving out their sentence at Northeast Reintegration Center or at Grafton Correctional Institution. 

Before the cooking competition, Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne stopped by Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry to thank the Chopped4Change teams. He said he hopes to see them teaching other participants in the future. 

“When we talk about rehabilitation, true rehabilitation, it’s gotta be a two-way street between a returning citizen and the community itself,” Ronayne said.

On Wednesday morning, more than 50 people heard how collateral sanctions impact lives. People with lived experience shared how these laws and policies – for example, housing applications that keep people with a criminal background from renting – make it difficult for someone with a criminal record to access such necessities as a job or a safe place to live. 

They also heard from nonprofit leaders about the trauma that comes with incarceration and about laws that are helping reduce barriers that make it more difficult for people to move forward after their release. 

On Monday, Ian Marks, vice president of workforce development at Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry, told Signal Cleveland that Cuyahoga County sees more than 3,000 people return to the county from jail and prison every year. 

“We need to make sure we’re doing as much as we can to really practice rehabilitation,” Marks said, “to understand that people are being judged by probably the worst day in their entire life and that they’re able to move forward from that and they deserve a second chance because they’ve done everything to pay their debt.” 

Upcoming Reentry Week events will also help educate people affected by the criminal justice system on what their rights are, how they can expunge their records, and how they can connect to employers open to hiring people with a criminal background. 

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Youth Justice for You

The Ohio Public Defender’s Office and the ACLU of Ohio will share information about juvenile record sealing, expungement and youths’ rights.

At 10 a.m. 

North Star Neighborhood Reentry Resource Center

1834 E. 55th St., Cleveland, OH 44103 

It’s a Family Reunion Restorative Justice Resources & Family Fun Activities

This event will support people who have been impacted by the justice system with activities for kids, legal assistance, health and wellness services, financial advice and job training connections. 

3 to 6 p.m. 


1800 E. 63rd St., Cleveland, OH 44103

Friday, April 28, 2023

Charles R. See Forum on Reentry

The 2023 Charles R. See Forum on Reentry’s keynote speaker is Andre Ward, Associate Vice President of the David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy, Fortune Society. Visit cityclub.org to register.

Doors open at 11:15 a.m., talk and online viewing starts at noon

City Club of Cleveland, 850 Euclid Ave. 2nd floor 

Saturday, April 29, 2023

2023 Breaking the Chain Expungement Clinic & Job Fair

The event will include food, music, expungement screening and applications and on-the-spot job interviews with Second Chance Employers.

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

John F. Kennedy High School

15111 Miles Ave., Cleveland, OH 44128

Policy Planning Summit 2023: Eliminating collateral sanctions

People affected by the criminal justice system will share their stories and talk about how collateral sanctions have affected their lives. Register here

9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

Tri-C Metro Campus

2900 Community College Ave. 


LegalWorks “In the Neighborhood” series

LegalWorks and other local organizations are hosting a monthly legal clinic where people can start the process of getting their records expunged.

All “In the Neighborhood” clinics are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Thursday, May 18: 2nd Calvary Baptist Church, 12017 Emery Ave.

Thursday, June 22: Mega Church, 3170 Scranton Rd.

Thursday, July 13: La Sagrada Familia, 7719 Detroit Ave.

Thursday, Aug. 17: My. Sinai Ministries, 7510 Woodland Ave.

Thursday, Sept. 21: Aspinwall Church Outreach, 14627 Aspinwall Ave.

Criminal Justice Reporter (she/her)
Stephanie, who covered criminal justice and breaking news at the Chicago Tribune, is a bilingual journalist with a passion for storytelling that is inclusive and reflects the diversity of the communities she covers. She has been a reporter and copy editor for local newspapers in South Dakota, Kansas and Arizona. Stephanie is also a Maynard 200 alumni, a Maynard Institute for Journalism Education training program for journalists of color that focuses on making newsrooms more equitable, diverse and anti-racist.