The head of Ohio’s prison system gave state legislators a no-nonsense budget talk yesterday, saying, “We’ve lost the war on drugs, yet we keep sending people to state prisons,” the Columbus Dispatch reports. Terry Collins, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, made an impassioned plea for sentencing reforms to divert more offenders from overcrowded prisons and ease the burden on the financially strapped system.
The alternative is closing another prison in 2011, Collins told a House committee reviewing the state budget. “We are at a critical and urgent stage,” he said. The director said state prisons are bulging with 32 percent more inmates than they are designed to hold, and the population will hit 60,000 in the next decade unless changes are made. It was 50,719 on Monday. Gov. Ted Strickland’s two-year budget proposes spending a total of $3.65 billion in fiscal years 2010 and 2011 to operate prisons, community-corrections facilities and halfway houses funded by the state. Collins said the proposed budget will require cutting about 500 positions from his payroll.