Diverse Leaders React to Ohio Governor Kasich’s Signing of State Budget, Including Criminal Justice Reforms

July 1, 2017
CONTACT: Kristin Ford, 202.570.6441, [email protected]

Diverse Leaders React to Ohio Governor Kasich’s Signing of State Budget, Including Criminal Justice Reforms
New Report Demonstrates Public Safety Benefits of Reform, New Survey Demonstrates Broad Support

COLUMBUS – Today, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed the 2018-2019 state budget, which includes provisions to reduce the number of people in state prison in the top incarcerating counties and to reduce incarcerations due to technical probation violations, while also investing dollars in local programming and incentivizing rehabilitation by expanding access to earned credit.

A newly released report from The JFA Institute found that, if implemented, the criminal justice provisions in the state budget proposal could save the state $15 million with a negligible impact in the risk to public safety.  Read the full report here.

In reaction to the Governor’s signing of the budget, diverse Ohio and national leaders released the following statements:

“The criminal justice reforms in this budget are a first step towards the goal of rebalancing Ohio’s criminal justice system and we applaud Governor Kasich for his leadership on this important issue.  Diverting people convicted of low-level offenses to local programs in lieu of costly and often ineffective prison stays is sound public policy.  The budget provisions should serve as the beginning: more sweeping changes will be needed in order to meaningfully slow corrections spending and prison growth while improving safety.”

— Lenore Anderson, President of the Alliance for Safety and Justice

“In Ohio, there’s a recognition across all demographic groups of the need to make changes to the state’s criminal justice system.  Diverse leaders, including crime survivors, faith leaders, business leaders, and law enforcement, are calling for real reforms. Hopefully this budget will be a down payment on a broader set of reforms to further reduce the number of people in prison for low-level offenses and invest in community health, prevention, and rehabilitation.”

— Robert Rooks, Vice President of the Alliance for Safety and Justice

“People must be held accountable for mistakes they make, but we must also provide real pathways to redemption and rehabilitation.  We need to equip people with the skills they need to successfully reintegrate into our communities, skills they are far more likely to build in local programs or supervision, rather than state prison.  This state budget improves on the status quo, but there’s more work to be done.”

— The Rev. Dr. Jawanza Karriem Colvin, pastor of the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, OH

“Many law enforcement officials, bipartisan leaders, the business community, and Ohio voters share the view that local supervision is more cost-effective and more effective than prison at rehabilitating people and ensuring they’re able to contribute to their communities. Ohio’s elected officials have made some progress on criminal justice reform and should continue to listen to their constituents and pursue common-sense measures to send people to local programs for low-level offenses, rather than to state prison.”

— Vince Holland, Retired Chief Probation Officer for Cuyahoga County

“Ohio has an incarceration problem, with the fourth largest prison population in the nation.  We must transform our criminal justice system and invest in treatment and rehabilitation, rather than over-spending on mass incarceration.  This is a step in the right direction.”

— DaMareo Cooper, Executive Director of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative

“Ohio can look to Texas and a number of other states that have taken significant steps to slow prison growth and curb corrections spending.  The provisions in the Ohio budget make some progress towards the goal of saving taxpayer money, improving public safety, and holding people accountable.  It’s imperative to reduce the tremendous corrections bill of $1.6 billion currently shouldered by Ohio taxpayers, especially given its poor return on investment.”

— Marc Levin, Policy Director, Right on Crime and Director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation

“The steps taken to divert people with low-level convictions to local programs instead of state prison is significant.  In my work volunteering in a women’s prison, I’ve seen so many women struggling with addiction, who need treatment not incarceration in order to escape the cycle of crime and change their lives.  Many people who are incarcerated are, like me, survivors of crime and violence who are grappling with unaddressed trauma, which is why we need to provide real rehabilitation opportunities to prevent crime from happening again.  These kinds of programs can transform lives and improve public safety.”

— Sonia Matis, domestic violence and sexual assault survivor and a volunteer in a women’s prison and at a rape crisis center

A March 2017 survey, commissioned by Alliance for Safety and Justice and conducted by public opinion research firm, Baselice and Associates found that voters in Ohio—Republican, Democratic, and Independent voters—overwhelmingly support these types of reforms.  According to the survey, strong majorities of all demographic groups support requiring people with short-term sentences (18 months or less) to complete those sentences in a local jail, halfway housing, or supervised probation instead of state prison.  Eighty percent of voters support local options in lieu of state prison for these short-term sentences, with 72% of GOP voters, 77% of Independent voters, and 89% of Democratic voters expressing support.

The polling memo is available online here.

Alliance for Safety and Justice is a national criminal justice reform organization that works with crime survivors and aims to win new safety priorities in states across the country. For more information visit http://www.allianceforsafetyandjustice.org or @SafeandJustUSA.