(WKBN) – America guarantees everyone legal representation, but some people can’t afford it and need help. Our “In-Depth” discussion with Attorney Ryan Ingram, president of the Mahoning County Bar Association, continues on the subject.

Ingram has served in the capacity of providing the indigent with legal counsel. Are there any trends?

“I suppose the biggest trend that I see is the issue with individuals who suffer from addiction and substance abuse. A lot of the times, they end up incarcerated and they simply don’t have the ability to enter into the treatment programs necessary to deal with their underlying addiction issue. That’s where you see the recidivism rates really going up,” Ingram said.

Recidivism rates are high for a variety of reasons, but has anyone given consideration to providing some type of programming prior to release from termination of jail terms?

“I do know that it’s been difficult with COVID, that the Ohio Department of Corrections offered a litany of programs that they could avail themselves to, whether it be education, whether it be learning a trade. But a lot of that kind of was put on the back burner during COVID because they just didn’t have the resources. I believe that, why, if you just announced a program where they’re working with one of the local facilities, trying to teach individuals trade, so when they are released, they will be able to be a productive member of society,” Ingram said. “Hopefully, they’ll be able to find a job, make some money and won’t repeat the same antisocial behavior that led to their prior predicament.”

Ingrams says most of them go into incarceration with a lot of issues. They come out with the same issues and now new ones with the expectation that they are going to become productive members of the community.

“The recidivism rate is continuing to go up but the issue, I guess, would be if there are programs available, these individuals would need to avail themselves of those programs and take those opportunities to better themselves,” Ingram said.

Is there a consideration then, that being part of the sentencing process, or is that again, the issue of violating civil rights?

“With the sentencing process. So if an individual… one of the factors that they look at is, a judge will look at when they’re sentencing somebody, is whether or not they’re employed at the time that the offense was committed. Those individuals, I would imagine, who are employed may be less likely to commit those, let’s say a possession of drug offense, than someone who would be unemployed,” Ingram said. “That is most certainly a factor that the courts will look at what they are doing. Are they making beneficial use of their time? Are they in school? Are they trying to take active steps to better themselves? So those are most certainly things that judges will look at when they’re sentencing an individual.”