Analysis mirrors national research that reclassification of low-level offenses has positive results at time when Ohio continues to have top two COVID outbreaks in nation located in its state prisons
COLUMBUS — The Alliance for Safety and Justice highlighted a fiscal impact statement from the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, indicating Senate Bill 3 would have positive results for taxpayers and the state’s severely overcrowded prison system. The nonpartisan agency’s analysis estimated that the legislation will produce up to $75 million in cost savings and 2,700 fewer people sentenced to prison each year for a low-level drug possession offense. The impact statement by the Ohio General Assembly’s legislative and fiscal analysis arm follows the Senate’s reintroduction and hearing on Senate Bill 3 Wednesday, and precedes a committee vote on the legislation scheduled for Wednesday, May 27.
“The evidence and research has always shown that Senate Bill 3 would be good for public health and safety, helping Ohio to address its addiction crisis and dangerous prison overcrowding,” said Shakyra Diaz, Ohio State Director of the Alliance for Safety and Justice. “This pandemic has further exposed that our state is needlessly keeping people with addictions in our state’s prisons, leading us to have the two worst COVID outbreaks in the nation. The Ohio General Assembly’s nonpartisan research agency is confirming the need for us to treat addiction as a health issue with its analysis. We can save our state money that can be put to better use, and improve the health and safety of communities across Ohio.”
Ohio is home to two of the nation’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the nation, housed in the state prisons of Marion and Pickaway that are over 150 percent of their capacity. Yet, these are not even the most overcrowded prisons in the state. As of the end of April, approximately one-third of Coronavirus infections derived from the state’s prisons, including infections of residents in surrounding communities and the deaths of those detained and working in the facilities. According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, 14.5 percent of prison commitments are due to drug possession. The state has a prison population of approximately 49,000.
An accumulation of national research has evidenced that felony convictions and incarceration are ineffective responses to addiction, whereas treatment in local communities produces better public safety results. Research by the Urban Institute indicated that reclassifying drug possession to reduce arrests, felony convictions and incarceration (as Senate Bill 3 would), can increase opportunities for successful treatment in communities.
ABOUT ALLIANCE FOR SAFETY AND JUSTICE
The Alliance for Safety and Justice is a national organization that aims to win new safety priorities in states across the country. It partners with leaders to advance state reform through networking, coalition building, research, education and advocacy. It also brings together diverse crime survivors to advance policies that help communities most harmed by crime and violence, as part of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice – its national network of over 42,000 crime survivors with thousands of members in Ohio.
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