A package of sentencing reforms initially included in the Governor’s budget has passed the Ohio House and now heads to the Senate. There is bipartisan support on this bill that would make several significant changes that would both increase sentencing effectiveness and potentially save the state millions of dollars.
There are several changes being proposed, though it’s likely the bill will see some alterations before ultimately passing the Senate. Among the reforms:
- Offering treatment instead of prison for low level drug offenses
- Allowing the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to seek the release of inmates who have served 85% of their original sentences
- Eliminate the crack cocaine and powder cocaine disparity
- Change the felony theft threshold from $500 to $1000
- Allow inmates to earn credit for completing treatment, job training, and education while incarcerated (up to 5 days credit per month off of their sentence)
- Spare those delinquent on child support from prison, sending them into community programs instead
These changes are estimated to be able to save the state about $78 million in annual prison costs. It passed the House with a 95-2 vote and is likely to eventually pass the Senate with little opposition too. “These are common sense improvements that are badly needed, and I look forward to their quick passage in the Senate so I can sign them into law” said Governor Kasich, who had initially included the proposals in his two year budget.
Democrats in the House reportedly proposed additional amendments but those were struck down in the end.
States across the country are making sweeping changes to their sentencing and criminal justice practices. While the main motivator seems to be fiscal savings, the end result is positive nonetheless. Since tough on crime policies became so popular decades ago, we haven’t seen change on such a dramatic level since. Money and a prison system bursting at the seams is the catalyst for bipartisan reform.
Despite lessening penalties and progressive changes, criminal charges are treated very seriously and are a cause for concern. If you are charged with a crime and unsure of how to proceed, a criminal defense lawyer can help you determine the best course of action. Contact us for a free consultation on your criminal case.