The 130th General Assembly of the State of Ohio voted yesterday to approve Senate Concurrent Resolution Number 8. SCR 8 formally designates the month of April as “Forgotten Victims of Crime Recognition Month” throughout the state with the stated goal of “recognizing the adverse impacts upon children of incarcerated parents.”
In addition to encouraging “all citizens of the state of Ohio, along with all state and local agencies that interact with the families of incarcerated Ohioans, to join with the General Assembly in acknowledgement and support of the families and children of incarcerated Ohioans”, the resolution designates April as Forgotten Victims of Crime Recognition Month.
The Resolution was the brainchild of RIDGE Project Co-Executive Directors Ron and Catherine Tijerina. The Tijerinas, who were introduced in the House of Representatives before the vote, had been looking for a congressional sponsor for this type of legislation for 15 years before the joint resolution was introduced in the Senate by Cliff Hite (R Findlay pictured with Ron and Catherine Tijerina) and was brought to the Ohio House by Representative Lynn Wachtmann (R Napoleon) earlier this year. The bill enjoyed overwhelming bi-partisan support in both chambers; so much so that all 33 Senators and 54 Representatives added their names as Co-Sponsors of the bill. SCR 8 passed unanimously in the Senate and enjoyed a margin of 92-1 in the House.
Senator Hite believes the resolution will help “people recognize… these ‘forgotten victims’, “and hopes that “the citizens of Ohio will step up and comprehend the importance of strengthening these families, not tearing them down.” Representative Wachtmann agreed. “As a sponsor of this resolution in the Ohio House of Representatives, I trust that the citizens of Ohio will become more aware of how incarceration impacts everyone, whether they are the victim of the crime, the citizens, the community or the family.”
“This is a significant day for this group of people who have historically had little to no voice” said RIDGE Project Co-Executive Director Catherine Tijerina. “Speaking as a former forgotten victim it is gratifying for our struggle to be officially recognized. SCR 8 will bring awareness to the plight of the families and children of prisoners while hopefully serving as a catalyst for social change. Ron and I envision a future in which these families are given opportunities to thrive. As a society we need to stop sentencing children to lives of stigma and poverty when their parents are incarcerated. This resolution is an important step in the right direction.”
RIDGE Project Co-Executive Director Ron Tijerina added “This is what The RIDGE Project is about and we are glad to have more public focus on the group of people we have given so much of our lives to support. We are grateful to Senator Hite and Congressman Wachtmann who have faithfully and diligently championed not just this resolution but the cause it represents.”
The RIDGE Project is a Christian, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 2000 that provides services through partnerships with churches, schools, and state and national agencies to serve the youth and families of Ohio. Additionally, the organization strives to inform individuals, communities, the media and local and national policy makers of the importance of strong families. The organization has been recognized as a federal Department of Health and Human Services “Best Practice” program, and has been identified nationally as a leader in family and youth services.