Ohio’s Overcrowded Prisons Could Grow 37% In Decade


The number of Ohio prison inmates is expected to balloon in the next 10 years as nearly 65,000 felons are placed in state custody, says a consultant’s study reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The report by prison expert James Austin estimated a 37 percent spike in inmates by late 2016. That raises the question whether the state will need to expand its 32-prison penal system to absorb more than 17,000 new inmates. “You can look at this and say, ‘We need to build or add,’ ” said Shirley Pope, director of the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, a legislative oversight committee. “But will taxpayers want to foot the bill to pay for prisons? Other states have shown that if you keep building, you’ll never fix the problem. You can’t build yourself out of overcrowding.”

The state houses about 47,600 inmates in prisons built to hold 38,000. State officials attribute the projected boost to a sagging statewide economy and the overcrowded treatment programs in many counties that force judges to send low-level offenders to prison. “I have no plans of building, and I have not discussed it with anyone,” said Terry Collins, the state’s director of prisons. “We need to look at this as a holistic approach. You can’t put your mind-set at just one solution – building. We need to look at everything.”

Link: http://www.cleveland.com/crime/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/news/1169026989300620.xml&coll=2

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