The American Civil Liberties Union and state Sens. Nina Turner, a Cleveland Democrat, and Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, are at odds on many issues, but the unlikely trio has joined forces to pitch reforms to heal Ohio’s “overcrowded, overused and underfunded” prison system, reports the Columbus Dispatch. “We are at a crisis in the state of Ohio,” said James Hardiman, Ohio ACLU legal director, in releasing “Reform Cannot Wait,” a report examining the cost and impact of prison incarceration and spending from 1991 to the present.
The report summarized the findings of other reports over nearly two decades and reached the same conclusions: Ohio sends far too many people to prison, spends an inordinate amount of money on adult and youth prisons, and has done little to reduce crime and recidivism. It costs taxpayers $66.31 per day to house each adult offender and $330.33 per day for each juvenile offender. Community sanctions, treatment and probation cost a small fraction of those amounts. Seitz is the sponsor of a proposal that would funnel some low-level, nonviolent offenders to community treatment programs and give offenders time off their sentences for successfully participating in education and treatment programs behind bars. It would initially save about $13.7 million in operating costs, but it would help avoid billions in spending if it prevents the state from having to build new prisons because of severe overcrowding, he said.