Ohio jpg.jpg


Total Correctional Population: 326,200

Number on Parole or Probation: 256,400

Number in Local Jail or Prison: 71,000

Incarceration Rate per 100,000 residents: 610

Incarceration Rate Rank: 24th

Corrections Share of 2018 General Fund Expenditures: 6.1%


“Correctional Populations in the United States, 2016,” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. 

"2018 State Expenditure Report," National Association of State Budget Officers 

Bills Recently Signed into Law


Senate Bill 66: Expands access to record sealing, expands eligibility for critically-needed drug and alcohol treatment programs, promotes rehabilitation as an alternative to prison, allows for alternative sanctions for violating terms of parole, and modifies the way in which a court calculates jail time credit.

Senate Bill 4: Allows expungement for most offense committed under the duress of human trafficking.


House Bill 347: Revises the civil forfeiture process, changes seizure procedures, shifts the burden of proof and revising evidence requirements for criminal forfeiture, restricts the transfer of forfeited property to a federal agency.


House Bill 56: Prohibits public employers from including questions about criminal history on initial job application forms.



April 12, 2019

“It should be more open. It shouldn’t be so closed that we don’t know what their decisions are based on.”

The Ohio Parole Board is under scrutiny from a wide array of critics, including crime victims, incarcerated people, lawyers and lawmakers. Much of the criticism focuses on a lack of transparency: hearings are not open to the public, records are kept secret, and board debate and votes are conducted behind closed doors. Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Annette Chambers-Smith expressed confidence in the current board, but said she planned to appoint four new members with more diverse backgrounds, ask outside experts to recommend reforms, and look for ways they can be more transparent.

January 11, 2019

“It was in this context that Dayton waded in: innovating, trying, failing, and trying again. And while nobody will tell you that the problem is solved, our community has made enormous strides.”

One of the cities hardest hit by the opioid crisis, Dayton, Ohio has become a model for its creative, collaborative, and compassionate response.Since 2011, Dayton’s Montgomery County has had one of the highest rates of overdose fatalities in the state; but fatalities were down 65% in 2018 as compared to the same time period in 2017. A report from the Center for American Progress analyzed key elements of the city’s response, including rapid and targeted data collection and use, increased access to treatment, and a law enforcement strategy focused on support and prevention rather than criminalization.

September 14, 2018

“That’s where a text-messaging service helps. Defendants may not read a letter…but they will look at their cell phones.”

Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s Office has been using a text messaging service to remind some clients of upcoming court dates, and hopes to expand the program to include juvenile and municipal court defendants soon. Many defendants do not have stable addresses, or miss mailed notifications, but are more likely to see a notice on their cell phones. A similar program, run by Uptrust, is in use in counties in California, Maryland, Virginia, Washington and Pennsylvania. Uptrust’s CEO says failure-to-appear rates have gone from 15-20 percent to 5-6 percent in their service areas.

August 24, 2018

“That practice also has reduced crowding in the Summit County Jail, and saved taxpayers millions of dollars a year in jail costs.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Justice for All series continued with an step-by-step review of Summit County, Ohio’s pretrial services. Spurred by overcrowding and rising costs, the county adopted a pretrial risk assessment system in 2006. Officials estimate savings of more than $7.3 million in 2016 alone. Akron Municipal Court judge said the pretrial services program was essential: “I’ve never had to do my job without the risk assessment and I don’t think that I would want to.”

August 3, 2018

“These challenges may appear overwhelming, but many states are using innovative approaches to tackle them and are achieving results.”

The Council of State Governments Justice Center introduced a new website, the 50-State Report on Public Safety, which features more than 300 data visualizations comparing crime, recidivism and state correctional practices. Highlighted innovations come from all 50 states, including Ohio’s  Crisis Intervention Teams, Pennsylvania’s use of performance-based contracts for halfway houses, and New Mexico’s first-in-the-nation requirement that all local and state law enforcement officers carry naloxone.

June 29, 2018

“Battleground Ohio has proven yet again that lawmakers from opposite sides of the aisle can still come together to pass meaningful criminal justice reforms that will save the state money and make Ohioans safer.” 
Legislators in Ohio passed Senate Bill 66, which promotes alternatives to incarceration and expands access to record sealing and drug and alcohol treatment programs. The bill, sponsored by Senators John Eklund and Charletta Tavares and backed by Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Gary Mohr, passed this week with overwhelming bipartisan support and awaits Governor Kasich’s signature.

June 29, 2018

“We believe that shedding light on state compassionate release programs is the first step to improving them.”
Families Against Mandatory Minimums released a report this week on the state of compassionate release programs across the country. They found a patchwork of policies, with incomplete, inconsistent and incoherent guidelines and rules. 25 states, including ArizonaIowaKentuckyMichiganMinnesotaNew YorkOhioPennsylvaniaRhode Island and Tennessee, have unclear or insufficient guidance surrounding their compassionate release programs for elderly incarcerated people, and Iowa has no formal compassionate release program at all. The report includes 21 policy recommendations to expand, improve, and publicize programs.  

June 15, 2018

“…The practice of suspending licenses for failing to pay traffic tickets or to appear in court traps many low-income Ohioans in the criminal justice system.”

A new report reveals 5.62% of Ohio’s nearly 8 million licensed drivers have a suspended or revoked license, the second-highest rate in the country. In addition to punishing driving infractions, the state suspends licenses for people who are unable to provide proof of insurance, or who fail to pay court fees or child support. Previous reporting by the Cleveland Plain Dealer showed that neighborhood suspension rates were directly correlated with the percentage of residents making less than 200% of the poverty level. Other states with high rates of suspended or revoked licenses include Minnesota (4.88%) and Iowa (4.79%)

June 15, 2018

“…The widely heralded ‘era of reform’ seems never to have arrived in some jurisdictions, where growth has continued unchecked.”

Analysis from the Vera Institute showed that overall prison admissions have declined 24% since 2006, but the decline was concentrated in 10 states (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina and Vermont), with California accounting for 37% of the total national decline. The report includes state-by-state analysis of incarceration, including pretrial jail population, sentenced jail population, and prison population and admissions.

May 18, 2018

“Those are the better outcomes for everyone, not just the individual, but the community as well.”

Officials in Lucas County, Ohio announced new efforts to provide treatment for those with mental illness, rather than jail stays. An estimated 57% of people released from Lucas County jails have behavioral health needs, and 67% of those still in custody have received mental health services. Programs include the ongoing Opportunity Project, which identifies people in need of treatment before their initial court appearance, and increased funding for case managers and treatment providers.

May 11, 2018

“What is needed for this youth and family to be in a better place in life than when they entered our system?”

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation calls for juvenile probation reforms that would divert more youth from the juvenile justice system to community resources, and transform probation into a more effective intervention for those who remain in the system. The report highlighted the successes of the City of St. Louis’s juvenile probation programs, which have contributed to a 59% drop in new charges for young people on probation, and pointed to diversion programs in Summit County, Ohio and Restorative Justice programs in Davidson County, Tennessee as potential models for reform.

May 4, 2018

“Ohio’s cash bail system is broken and the reforms pending in the General Assembly could save hard-earned taxpayer dollars while keeping our communities safe.”

A new report from Ohio’s Buckeye Institute found that proposed bail reforms could save $67 million in jail costs. The average jail bed in Ohio costs nearly $65 per day, while supervised release costs only $5 per day.  House Bill 439 would provide a risk assessment tool for use in pretrial decision-making, and require courts to collect data on bail, pretrial release, and sentencing.

February 16, 2018

“If we move these services up, you’re striking when the iron’s hot.”

After continued concerns over flaws in the juvenile justice system in Cleveland, officials are looking to Montgomery County as a model for reform. The Montgomery County Juvenile Court’s Intervention Center assesses juveniles immediately after arrest for mental health, substance abuse, and domestic or behavioral issues that could be addressed through specialized services. Assessments also help determine if the case can be resolved through diversion, counseling, treatment or mediation, rather than being referred to juvenile court. This model has helped Montgomery County cut juvenile crime and pricey detention bed stays concurrently.

February 2, 2018

“Courts are centers of justice, not automatic teller machines whose purpose is to generate revenue for governments…”

In a letter to more than 650 Ohio judges, state Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor reminded them to abide by the standards of Bearden v. Georgia, which declared that suspects can’t be jailed because of an inability to pay court-imposed fines and fees when they’ve made good efforts to do so. She acknowledged that many face pressure to generate revenue, but urged them to remember their abiding role as centers as justice.