VIDEO: Portman Touts RIDGE Project, Toledo Chamber’s Efforts to Reduce Recidivism

October 7, 2020 | Portman Difference

In a new video, Senator Portman discusses his recent virtual participation in the Toledo Chamber of Commerce’s Reentry Development Initiative event, which focused on efforts to reduce recidivism rates and support Second Chance individuals as they get back on their feet. The event featured the RIDGE Project, which focuses on building strong family bonds even during incarceration and ensuring those who are re-entering the workforce can secure and maintain their employment. The RIDGE Project has received grant funding thanks to Portman’s Second Chance Act. 

Portman’s Second Chance Act aims to help justice-involved individuals rebuild their lives by getting the mental health treatment and skills training they need to reenter the workforce. Then-Congressman Portman originally authored the Second Chance Act with the late-Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and it was signed into law in 2008. Since 2009, more than 850 Second Chance Act grant awards have been made to government agencies and nonprofit organizations from 49 states for reentry programs serving adults and juveniles – including the RIDGE Project.  

Portman also discussed his Paycheck Protection Program Second Chance Act, bipartisan legislation which will allow small business owners with criminal records to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program.  

A transcript of the video can be found below and the video can be found here. 

“This week, I enjoyed the opportunity to visit with the members of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce to talk about an issue that’s really important to me. They had a summit on reducing recidivism rates and ensuring that those who are re-entering the community, after time in the criminal justice system, have the opportunity to get back on their feet, achieve their God-given potential. We got to hear from Ron and Cathy Tijerina, who run a really impressive local nonprofit called the RIDGE Project that focuses on building strong family bonds even during incarceration and ensuring those who are re-entering the workforce can secure and maintain their employment. 

“We also talked about how we’ve had some success in Washington, D.C., passing laws that have made a difference back home for those Second Chance individuals. My Second Chance Act has provided millions in grants to Ohio re-entry groups, including the RIDGE Project, and helped more than 160,000 returning individuals nationwide, and our work on the addiction crisis in Congress has helped nonviolent drug offenders get the help they need to break that cycle of incarceration. We also discussed how we’re continuing to work on helping Second Chance individuals during this unprecedented health care and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

“One of the best programs, in my view, created by Congress to respond to these challenges was called the PPP, the Paycheck Protection Program. It gives small businesses low-interest loans that can then be forgiven if they’re used on payroll and other essential expenses like mortgage or rent. Unfortunately, this program that has helped so many small businesses stay afloat in Ohio initially locked out all Second Chance small business owners. That’s why I worked with the Treasury Department to fix this oversight and to allow Second Chance business owners to be eligible for loans. 

“As we work to pass another coronavirus rescue package in Congress, I’m pushing for restarting the PPP program with this Second Chance Act oversight corrected and I have legislation to do that, we need to codify it. I also want to thank the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce for the work they do in this area. It’s really important to bring business leaders into this discussion. And they did that this week and I thought that was very effective. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to work in Congress to ensure that Second Chance individuals aren’t defined by the mistakes of their past, but rather by the potential for the future. This is good for them, their families. It’s also good for our business community. And again, I was encouraged to see the Toledo Chamber and so many business owners participating in the summit this week.”