Policy Matters Ohio recommends principles for criminal justice reform
Posted February 28, 2019 in Press Releases
Policy Matters Ohio today, in a letter to Senate President Larry Obhof, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair John Eklund, and Senator Cecil Thomas, Ranking Minority member of the Judiciary Committee, recommended five principles for meaningful criminal justice reform in Ohio. As the Senate Judiciary Committee begins considering what to include in Senate Bill 3, the criminal justice reform bill, Senators Obhof and Eklund have requested that interested parties make recommendations.
Policy Matters suggested that criminal justice reform include the five Rs:
- Reclassification of minor drug possessions from felonies to misdemeanors;
- Retroactive application of that reclassification to ensure that communities over-targeted by past drug prosecution be included in the benefits;
- Reform of the probation-to-prison pipeline, reserving reincarceration only for those who commit new crimes;
- Reduction of sentences for incarcerated Ohioans who earn credit by participating in education, behavioral programming or work activities while in prison; and
- Reemployment for those who’ve served their time, by eliminating or reducing barriers to work known as collateral sanctions.
“We are eager to work with you to create policies that significantly reduce incarceration and racial disparities in our justice system and make Ohio safer by shifting resources from imprisonment to treatment and crime prevention,” said Amy Hanauer, Policy Matters Executive Director, in a letter summarizing the group’s research findings on how best to reduce incarceration.
Ohio incarcerates nearly 50,000 people at a cost of $1.8 billion annually, a larger share than all but 13 other states. Only two states have a higher share of people on probation. The number of incarcerated Ohioans has skyrocketed, tripling since 1980, and Ohio prisons are at 132 percent capacity, making them unsafe for inmates and correctional officers alike.
“Over-incarceration is not making our state safer,” Hanauer said in the letter. In 2017, 5,111 Ohioans died from overdoses, second worst in the country. “To be meaningful, reform must substantially reduce our prison population, reduce racial disparities in incarceration, and free up resources for treatment and crime prevention,” Hanauer said.