Commentary By Raymond Jacobs
We, the true homeless people of Cleveland, are bringing the issues before the people of Cleveland.
How do you become homeless? The State of Ohio extradited me to Ohio with shackles and leg irons and brought me to serve a 5 to 10 year sentence. In that time length that I was brought to Ohio, my time expired. I left the prison system with $24.00 in my pocket.
Cleveland is one of the two dumping grounds (the other is Cincinnati) that the state of Ohio uses for extradited prisoners being released. They did not give me enough bus fare to get home to New Orleans. I’m not saying I never committed a crime, because I did. But I was treated more like a criminal when I got out of prison than when I was in prison.
I stood on street corners, I begged, and police harassed me several times, but I was never arrested. I am one of the few people that can say that I am a success.
Although I am still selling Street Chronicles, the police officers and security guards took me under their wings. They talked to me and helped me stay straight.
Between 65% - 75% of people who are homeless have come out of the system and cannot get back to where they are from. The real homeless people are not the ones standing on the street corners and chasing people down demanding that they give them money. If you ask them from where they come, they will probably tell you another state.
Why is it that only two major cities in Ohio, Cleveland and Cincinnati, are your dumping grounds for inmates getting out of prison? Why is it that Columbus is not selected to release prisoners on their streets?
My name is Raymond Jacobs and I sell the Grapevine to make my ends meet. So I thank everyone for everything that they have done for me, but I still have not been able to get back to New Orleans. I am happy to now live in Cleveland. Thank you for reading this article and buying Grapevines from us.
Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and The Street Chronicle published Sept. 2011 Cleveland, Ohio