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In Licking County, Ohio, a Corrections Strategy That Offers Counseling, Art Classes, and Mindfulness Training

A 2014 study of day reporting in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, found that participants in the program were less likely to reoffend than those in traditional carceral programs.

Read our year-long investigation into the addiction crisis plaguing Rust Belt America.

A bell dings and the dozen or so men and women tucked around a large conference table in a newly renovated warehouse in Licking County, Ohio, fall silent.

“Take a deep breath,” Chris Ramsey says, “let the air fill up the body and let it go.”

Everyone present, save for Ramsey and a volunteer, is on probation, for crimes ranging from drug possession to trafficking or theft. They are here to participate in a day reporting program, an alternative to jail or prison that “provides rehabilitation for offenders through intensive programming,” as it’s described in the Federal Probation journal.

As part of their probation terms, they come here five days a week for 12 weeks, to take classes related to parenting, mental health, trauma awareness, art, education, writing, and recovery. Unlike traditional probation, where a person meets with a probation officer who refers them to social service agencies, day reporting brings those services together under one roof. For people with substance use disorders, day reporting provides a safe environment and a space for counseling or treatment. The treatment strategy began in the mid-’80s, in response to the prison crowding problem plaguing the United States, according to Federal Probation: Day reporting centers “were envisioned to offer enhanced supervision and provide a wide range of treatment services to the offender.” That means, for everyone gathered here, participating in this breathing exercise isn’t just about stabilizing their mental health; it’s also a means to freedom.


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