After reviewing the challenges facing Ohio’s criminal justice system in 2011, this report describes the reforms and their anticipated effects that stemmed from the state’s commitment to a Justice Reinvestment approach to the challenges.
In 2011, Ohio’s prisons were operating at 33 percent over their design capacity, with about 51,000 people incarcerated, a number projected to increase by 3,000 by 2015. In addition. local probation officers were supervising many people in the community, and limited county data on probation supervision has made it difficult for the state to assess local needs and provide targeted support. Further, the state’s capacity to invest resources in addressing local public safety challenges was limited by high corrections spending on a large prison population. From 2010 to 2011, upon a request from state leaders, The Council of State Governments (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. The reform effort was mandated in Ohio’s Justice Reinvestment legislation in 2011. As a result of this legislation and other policy reforms, the prison population remained stable, and significant projected corrections costs were averted. In September 2017, Ohio state leaders requested support from the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and The Pew Charitable Trusts. This support was in the form of a data-driven Justice reinvestment strategy that led to improvements in access to effective behavioral health supports and services for those in the criminal justice system to reduce recidivism and adopt cost-effective sentencing, corrections, and supervision policies.