How Ohio Has Cut Recidivism and Saved on Building New Jails


NPR focuses on how Ohio has put some of its scarce resources into programs designed to reduce the chances that ex-convicts will commit new crimes and go back behind bars. Over a three-year period, the rate of recidivism is down 11 percent in the state. Alan Johnson of the Columbus Dispatch tells NPR that, “the state finally realized [ ] that the lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-keys philosophy [ ] really doesn’t work rehabilitation-wise, and it certainly doesn’t work financially.”

Johnson says Ohio realized that some inmate-rehabilitation programs were training convicts for jobs that they couldn’t legally hold, so the state legislature made it easier for former inmates to get and keep jobs. State Sen. Bill Seitz told NPR that after his “very conservative” county rejected tax levies for new jails, he started looking into evidence-based practices that reduce the recidivism rate and relieve jail overcrowding by reliance on community corrections and on programs that expand education and job training for inmates. Seitz says that by adopting such measures, Ohio substantially reduced jail overcrowding and is expected to save $578 million in avoided costs between now and 2015.

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