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Ohio Addresses Budget and Prison Population Problems

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By Kamika Dunlap on June 16, 2010 2:45 PM

Ohio is thinking through ways to address its corrections budget and prison population problems.

A new study released by a Washington, D.C. think tank also may provide some insight on how to help states save $15 billion if they were to place half of their non-violent criminals probation or parole instead of in prisons and jails, the Dayton Daily News reports.

The Center for Economic Policy Research released its study as Ohio is trying to reduce a $1.78 billion corrections budget and cut the prison population. Currently, the prison population is at 51,000 and is designed for 38,665 inmates.

Nationwide, nonviolent offenders make up more than 60 percent of the jail and prison population.

If Ohio wants to fix its prison overcrowding problems, the state would need to undo its old laws.

Ohio will have to look at changing its sentencing provisions.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction supports a bill sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati.

The measure would increase thresholds for tougher penalties for certain non-violent crimes and eliminate differences in penalties for crack and powdered cocaine.

As of yet, Ohio's bill however has not been scheduled for a floor vote.

In the meantime, correction officials say they will continue working on finding local alternatives to incarceration, and ways to prevent ex-convicts from re-offending and returning to prison.

As previously discussed, Colorado is also looking at making its first large-scale drug-sentencing reform.

New proposed legislation (House Bill 1352) is aimed not only at saving the state money, but finding ways to offer drug offenders less jail time and more rehab.

The bill creates a distinction between possession of drugs and distribution of drugs and stiffens penalties for those who deal drugs to children.

The sponsors of the bill say Colorado is beginning to realize that locking up non-violent drug offenders does not cut recidivism and is not the best use of public-safety dollars.

 

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