Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Ohio House Passes Bill to Enact Criminal Sentencing Reforms

COLUMBUS—State Representative Lou Blessing (R-Cincinnati) has announced that the Ohio House of Representatives passed a comprehensive set of reforms that aim to revise Ohio’s sentencing law, address prison population growth, and streamline court, jail and prison operations.
House Bill 86 also includes the recommendations of the Council of State Governments Justice Reinvestment Project, an effort to help states address skyrocketing corrections expenditures and high recidivism rates among individuals upon release.
“Today we’ve taken a significant step toward reforming our criminal justice system and making it more effective,” Blessing said. “The system consumes an exorbitant amount of tax dollars and fails to successfully rehabilitate offenders. The status quo is simply unacceptable when we continue to funnel more and more dollars into a system that is underperforming. We can achieve significant savings by directing non-violent offenders into community-based programs that prepare individuals to be productive members of society, rather than repeatedly throwing the same people back into prison.”
According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Ohio’s prison population is projected to increase to more than 40 percent over capacity by 2015. Currently, state prisons are filled to 33 percent over capacity, holding nearly 13,000 more individuals than they were designed to hold. House Bill 86 would successfully address this burgeoning problem through community programs that more effectively rehabilitate offenders and reduce recidivism rates at a more affordable cost for the taxpayers. It will also improve probation supervision and reduce duplication of resources.
Almost every major paper in the state of Ohio has featured positive commentary about sentencing reform, including the Columbus Dispatch, the Akron Beacon Journal and the Toledo Blade.
House Bill 86 passed by a vote of 96-2 and will now move to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.