Ohio Justice Reform to Focus on System’s Front End

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Ohio corrections director Gary Mohr believes the justice system sends too many people to state prisons who shouldn’t be there. Union County Prosecutor David Phillips takes a harder line, saying many criminals deserve the accountability of hard time. Franklin County Judge Charles Schneider wants more sentencing discretion to better match the offender and crime to the appropriate sanction. Amid a glut of nonviolent drug offenders and probation violators serving time in state prisons, Ohio again is taking a look at criminal-justice reform, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

The effort aims at tweaking the system and sentencing to account for the impact of violent crime and opioid-fueled offenses “while enhancing public safety.” A 24-member “justice reinvestment” committee also hopes to reduce recidivism while pursuing schemes to better route offenders to the right place, whether prison or local community control programs. The emphasis will be on “what is happening before prison, or in other words, the system’s ‘front end,’ where many decisions are made that impact both future judicial and corrections practices,” said Michael Buenger, administrative director of the Ohio Supreme Court. The committee, which includes Mohr, Phillips, Schneider and other judges, prosecutors, lawmakers and state and local officials, is scheduled to submit a report and recommendations to the General Assembly in the fall of 2018.

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