In 2011, Ohio’s prisons were operating at 33 percent over capacity, with about 51,000 people in its facilities, a population that was projected to grow by 3,000 by 2015. From 2010 to 2011, the CSG Justice Center worked with Ohio state leaders to develop data-driven policy options designed to curb prison population growth, reduce corrections spending, and increase public safety. CSG Justice Center experts interviewed stakeholders across the criminal justice system and conducted a comprehensive analysis of Ohio’s criminal justice data. Signed into law in 2011, Ohio’s justice reinvestment legislation (HB 86):
- Holds first-time property and drug offenders accountable by requiring them to serve probation terms and receive treatment, when necessary;
- Adopts statewide admission criteria for community corrections programs that prioritize placement for people who would benefit most from intensive supervision and treatment; and
- Establishes statewide standards for probation to ensure greater consistency from county to county.
These policies were projected to reduce corrections spending by $78 million and save up to an estimated $500 million in averted construction costs by 2015. The legislature reinvested $10 million in FY2012–FY2013 and over $15 million in FY2014–FY2015 to improve probation supervision and reduce revocations.
According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Ohio was able to avert growth in its prisons by approximately 2,900 people, with the state’s total prison population at 50,583 as of January 2015.
The CSG Justice Center provided technical assistance to Ohio on the implementation of the justice reinvestment policies, including developing data metrics to track the legislation’s outcomes.