Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Posts Tagged ‘council of state governments

New Study: Ohio’s Prison System a “Costly ‘Revolving Door'”

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Ohio’s prisons are packed with low-level property and drug offenders serving sentences of just a few weeks or months, who could more cost-effectively be sentenced to probation, according to a newly released report from the Council of State Governments. The study compared Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) with Franklin County (Columbus) and found significant differences in the rates at which low-level offenders were sentenced to prison. As summarized by the Plain Dealer:

• Cuyahoga’s 34 common pleas court judges sentenced 51 percent of fourth-degree felony offenders to probation. In Franklin County … 63 percent of fourth-degree felons received probation.

• Cuyahoga sentenced 66 percent of less-serious fifth-degree felons to probation, compared to Franklin County’s 82 percent.

• Had Cuyahoga judges sentenced low-level felons to probation at the same rate as judges in Franklin County, 1,060 fewer people would have been sent to prison.

The report also notes that Ohio’s community corrections programs do not have clear eligibility criteria, and that its probation system is “a patchwork of independent agencies” with inconsistent policies. The study was conducted by the Council of State Governments through its Justice Reinvestment initiative, which pairs expert consultants with state policymakers to consult on criminal justice reform (and which, incidentally, has a lot of interesting resources on its website).

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