Ohio’s probation system is a jumble of overlapping and fragmented agencies without common rules for improving the way the state treats offenders under supervision, says a new study reported by the Associated Press. The study says that offenders who commit minor drug and property crimes are often supervised for years, while inmates who pose a high risk to public safety are released from prison without supervision.
The study by the Council of State Governments Justice Center says that a large number of offenders cycle through prisons with sentences of just a few months each, placing a costly burden on an already-strapped agency. One reason for the cycling is that the minimum sentence for lower-level felonies is six months in Ohio; it is one year in many other states. The study found that only four of every 10 inmates serving short sentences have a low risk of offending again. Two of every three are property-crime or drug offenders and have two or fewer prior convictions. “Altogether, this means that after the short hit of incapacitation, they’re back on the street and likely no better for it,” the study states.