Ohio enacted comprehensive reforms to its sentencing and corrections system in 2011. H.B. 86 created a statewide system of risk and needs assessments to ensure that community supervision and treatment resources are used to their maximum effectiveness on the most appropriate offenders. The reforms were projected to save taxpayers $46 million by 2015 by preventing expected growth in the state prison population, of which $20 million would be reinvested over four years to improve felony probation supervision. First-time property and drug offenders are required to serve probation and receive treatment rather than spending short terms in prison and then returning to their communities without supervision. The law emerged from the work of Ohio’s bipartisan, interbranch work group, which received technical assistance from the Council of State Governments Justice Center through the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a public-private partnership between Pew and the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.
I get emotional about this because I think the passage of this bill and the changing of this law is going to result in the saving of many, many lives, maybe even thousands, before all is said and done.
—Governor John Kasich (R)
Ohio’s prison population increased 16 percent between 2005 and 2008, rising from 44,270 inmates to a record 51,273, driving prison overcrowding and spending growth. By 2011, state prisons were 33 percent overcapacity. Absent reform, a projected influx of 3,000 inmates by 2015 would have required approximately $500 million in additional state spending.