Stories of Hope

St. Vincent de Paul Reentry Program

Cincinnati, Ohio

Removing the Barriers After Being Behind Bars

The Issue: After incarceration, it is nearly impossible for men and women to find work.

Two-thirds of all people currently incarcerated in the United States are there for non-violent offenses. Once people serve their sentences and satisfy all the conditions of their release, they still encounter significant obstacles, like finding a job and safe housing. The St. Vincent de Paul Reentry Program brings together formerly incarcerated men and women with Vincentian volunteers to address critical issues facing returning citizens.

Their Impact: Returning citizens develop skills and secure employment.

In five different states—Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Ohio, Florida, and Louisiana—the St. Vincent de Paul Reentry Program works to address critical issues of poverty and justice by advocating for systemic change. There are two parallel strategies to the organization. One identifies immediate needs of returning citizens, and the other addresses local and state-wide public policy issues. Besides offering leadership development training and mentoring, St. Vincent de Paul Reentry Program has had great success with its “Ban the Box” campaign. In Ohio, bipartisan support helped pass legislation to take a question about felony conviction off applications for employment. The hope is that employers fully consider an applicant’s credentials and skills before finding out that they’re returning citizens.

Paul Graham, national coordinator for the Vincentian Reentry Organizing Project of the National Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, stated, “The CCHD grant gave us the capacity to bring an additional component to our leadership development work and enhance the impact we can have in advocacy to promote fair hiring and address other barriers to reentry.”