Opportunity Port, a service engagement project managed by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, has celebrated one year of operations since launching in Franklin County on December 1, 2021.
The program serves residents of Franklin County by providing a mobile friendly way for justice-involved persons to connect with legal help for record sealing application assistance. Since its launch, the program has connected over 500 users with local legal aid organizations, including Legal Aid Society of Columbus, Equality Ohio, the Franklin County Municipal Court Self Help Resource Center, and the Moritz College of Law Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. Members of these organizations gathered on Friday, December 2, 2022, to discuss Opportunity Port’s year-end service numbers and plans for the program’s expansion. Thanks to additional funds from The Ohio State University Alliance for the American Dream and a grant provided by the Supreme Court of Ohio Civil Justice Program, Opportunity Port aims to begin serving the New Philadelphia and Cincinnati regions in 2023 in partnership with Southeast Ohio Legal Services and the Ohio Justice and Policy Center.
At the one-year celebration, Doug Berman, Executive Director of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, expressed gratitude for everyone’s contributions to the program in its first year.
“Record sealing is widely seen as potentially life-changing, even for those with a minor criminal record, and yet it is quite challenging for persons in Ohio to find out if they are eligible to have their record sealed and to navigate the required court process,” he said. “Opportunity Port is a ground-breaking program that, in only its first full year, has made it much easier for persons in central Ohio to improve their lives through record sealing. The inspiring efforts of the team of individuals and organizations working on Opportunity Port have already accomplished so much, and I am excited to see continued developments in the months and years ahead.”
Opportunity Port originated as a Columbus City Council initiative before moving operations to the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center in July 2021. Columbus City Councilmember Rob Dorans joined the celebration as well to offer his thanks and continued support of the program.
"We know that sealing a criminal record has a significant impact on a person's ability to secure better employment and housing. Unfortunately, the record sealing process was never designed to be user friendly,” Dorans said. “That's why we set out over a year ago to find a way to help more residents go through this process and I'm extremely excited to see that in its first year Opportunity Port has done just that. Someone's life should not be defined by one past mistake; and Opportunity Port is helping to make sure that is the reality for more of our residents."