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December 12, 2010

Incoming Ohio Governor Kasich having to face over-crowded prisons and tight budgets

The Columbus Dispatch this morning has an above-the-fold, front-page article on Ohio's prison problems.  Here are lengthy excerpts from this effective article, which is headlined "Prison reform awaits Kasich; Changing overcrowded system won't be easy":

[Ohio] prison administrators have been pushing for years to stem the tide of incoming inmates to save money and reduce crowding.  Ohio prisons house 50,976 offenders (33 percent over capacity), have a staff of more than 13,300 employees and a two-year, $3.54 billion budget.

That makes prisons one of the largest single categories in the state budget, accounting for roughly 7 percent of general fund spending, and a top target for cutbacks as state officials struggle to deal with an impending $8 billion shortfall.

Gov.-elect John Kasich has made it clear that changes in prisons, including privatization and sentencing reform, will be in his sights when he takes office Jan. 10.  "Everything is on the table. Is it possible to have private companies run prisons, build prisons?  Of course it is; we're looking at it," Kasich told The Dispatch last week.  "But corrections reform is critical.  It's one of the big cost sinks that we have.  We've got some states that are releasing people because they can't control their costs. We have to think intelligently about how we're going to do this."

Kasich, who beat incumbent Democrat Gov. Ted Strickland last month, said locking up offenders who have committed "relatively minor crimes" in costly state prisons "doesn't make sense to me.  "You want to put your prisoners in an environment where the public is safe, but where it's the least costly," he said.

One of the complaints Kasich has voiced frequently since the Nov. 2 election is that Ohio locks up "check-kiters and people who don't pay child support" when they could be punished at lower cost outside prison.  However, the state prison census shows there were 51 offenders behind bars for writing bad checks and 372 for failure to pay child support. Those categories, combined, account for less than 1 percent of the total prison population.

Cutting costs sounds reasonable but isn't easy in an overcrowded system with high security needs and court-ordered mandates for medical and mental-health care of inmates.

New Department of Rehabilitation and Correction budget estimates reveal the consequences of even a 10 percent cut, including the closing of prisons and the layoff of more than 2,500 employees.  It also could mean eliminating funding for 972 halfway-house beds, 1,547 community-diversion offenders and 2,200 offenders in city and county jail programs funded by the state.

As for privatizing, the state already contracts for the operation of two private prisons: North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility, a 552-bed, minimum-security facility for alcohol and drug offenders in Grafton in Lorain County, and the Lake Erie Correctional Institution, a 1,380-bed, minimum- and medium-security prison in Conneaut in Ashtabula County.  Both are operated by Management & Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah....

State lawmakers vigorously resisted a sentencing-reform proposal that had bipartisan support from the Strickland administration and state Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati.

Included in Strickland's proposed two-year budget in 2009 -- but stripped out by fellow Democrats -- was a proposal to reduce the prison population by more than 6,400 inmates, saving $29.1 million annually. It would have granted "earned credit" to release 2,644 prisoners, diverted 2,644 nonviolent offenders to community programs, sentenced 527 child-support violators to community sanctions and reduced re-sentences for parole violations by 591.

Seitz introduced a version of the proposal, but it also died under withering criticism from prosecutors and conservative Republican legislators.  More recently, prisons chief Ernie Moore said he wants to reduce the prison population to 48,000 by 2013.  He plans to divert more inmates to transitional control, work with judges to reduce the number of offenders returned to prison for technical violations and boost community programs for higher-risk offenders.

I am very pleased to hear my new Governor say that "everything is on the table" for dealing with these prison crowding and expense issues in Ohio.  I wonder if that really include drug offense and structured sentencing reform as well as back-end sentencing policy changes like more earned-time credit. 

Among many interesting aspects of the Ohio sentencing and corrections story is the fact that, as detailed in this recent report, prison terms have gone up since the Ohio Supreme Court responded to the Blakely SCOTUS decision by giving Ohio sentencing judges greater sentencing discretion.  Unlike in the federal system, where the guidelines tend to drive up prison terms, in Ohio structured sentencing reforms tended to keep prison sentences down.  But since that structure became just advisory in Ohio, sentence lengths have crept up.

December 12, 2010 at 12:27 PM | Permalink

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Dear Governor Elect Kasich,
I understand you are faced with a horendous job in deciding who to release from prison without jeopordizing the safety and well being of the people of the state of Ohio. We are in financial straights and cuts have got to be made. I do feel we need to release prisoners who have served time and have showed significant signs of reform no matter how serious the crime. Yes, I am writing because I know someone who is in this situation and has been in prison for over 22 years for aggrevated murder.
Incarcerated at age 18 and sentenced at age 19 he was given 20 years to life in prison as a devestating sentence. Now over 22 years later there is still no relief in sight. This is a person who has punished himself for 22 years for the loss of life that he was a part of. However he has not sat by idol and pondered away the time. He has gone to school and has completed 2 college degrees, he has completed every certificate and training that have been made available to him and has earned and gained the respect of every correctional officer who has ever worked with him. His prison record has been virtually spotless and he deserves a second chance to have a life outside of the razor sharp walls of prison. He is determined to make a difference in this world and only needs to be free and begin giving back. I am not asking for you to look at this case individually because I am sure you have thousands of letters just like this one that says pretty much the same thing, what I am asking is that you take a look at "old law" inmates and make a determination that these people deserve a chance. Maybe not all should be included but I am sure there could be a criteria that could be set up to determine if a person is ready to be released. The parole board has disappointed thousands of people over the last few years by imposeing more prison time beyond ther minimal sentence. Why does this happen when the prisoner has fullfilled every requirement imposed upon him/her? Many feel it is job security for the parole board because once the "old law" prisoners are released there will virtually be nothing more for the parole board and their jobs will be defunct. Is this true? It is worth considering.
Please look into this request. People are counting on you to make a difference. People are scared of you too. Show Ohioans that you are a just person and your main goal is to do what is best for all Ohioans not just those who live and take for granted their everyday freedoms.

Posted by: Donna parasiliti | Dec 28, 2010 1:33:51 PM

I am writing because i have a son that just went to prison On the 23rd of December. He had a drug charge, And failer to appear. He is going to do 11 months. The jails are so over crowed. My son has had alot of hurt in his life. His dad has told him over and over that he hated him, He is not able to read and write. He has been made fun of alot. And he has a little boy that he raised until he was 3 years old then the mother decided to take him away. My son was also beaten up by law inforcement and thrown into jail. All the bad things that has happened to him in the past was the reason he went to drugs. And where we live the drugs are very bad. It never seems to get any better. I just dont see how prison is going to help him. They say the drugs in there are alot worse.

Posted by: Dorothy Barber | Dec 28, 2010 4:50:22 PM

I am the fiance' of an old law inmate. I have read your blog. I am very interested in any information about any reform bills,laws concerning the early release of the old law inmates.If you would or if you could give me info I would really appreciate your help.And if I can help in any way please let me know. Thank you,Mary Abner

Posted by: Mary Abner | Feb 16, 2011 5:23:44 AM

As a frontline practitioner,I worked in Parole and Probation for 34 years,I read with great trepidation that politicians and others believe going back to pre-SB2 days and privatizing prisons will solve whatever problem they are trying to fix.
Proposals to reinstitute 'goodtime' awards,keep 'lowlevel'(whatever those are) criminals
out of prison and privatize are cyclical trends that have been tried,untried,tried again...
Most judges already divert those so called 'lowlevel'criminals from the system already. Criminals have numerous opportunities already to profit from treatment,job asisstance and supervision in their communities. When a judge repeatedly sees the same people,they have an obligation to the commuities in which they serve to say enough.
The proposals out there now have been tried before. Over time they will do little if anything to 'keep criminals out of prison.'

Posted by: Lee Adams | Feb 17, 2011 11:07:04 AM

The fact that someone went to jail and earned 2 college degrees while being punished at the hands of the state makes me absolutely sick....I pay through the nose to put my good kids in college with no help from the state or federal government....maybe we should be looking into way tax payers are paying for prisoners to get college degrees...vocational education i can understand...college NO!

Posted by: Belinda Lehr | Mar 8, 2011 12:45:59 PM

my post is dierected towards donna parasiliti and mary abner , i read both of your post and I too have a love one serving over twenty years and feel no relief wiil come through the parole board. I also believe it is a job security issue for the parole board. I have written both Strickland and Kasich. would like anyone interested in trying to get some positive results to contact me. planning a protest and need support. reach me at vabrooks1@yahoo.com

Posted by: vivian brooks | Mar 12, 2011 2:17:12 PM

I am a everyday tax payer and agree we need to stop putting people in prison for none child support and writting bad checks and limiting prison time for other offences. I do not believe in others taking anothers life but do believe in if someone was 18 years old at the time they deserve another chance in life after so many years.
I my self hope that Kasich starts releaseing prisons and give them opertunuties in life. But I have noticed one of the problems we are having in life is that most jobs these days are not wanting to give anyone a chance at a job opertunity if they have a prison record. Come on America. Prisoners that are released served their time and deserve to get a job to be able to make it in this world. If companies do not open a job opertunity to released prisoners how are they suppose to be able to servive in the world?
This is a huge problem that is causing allot of our crimes. Think about it. If they can not get a job then how the heck are they suppose to support them self?

Posted by: MARY D | Mar 13, 2011 10:13:38 AM

I myself have been in prison. I was sentence to 5 years. I served every day of it. N ow don't get me wrong what I did was rob a store. So 5 five years was fair. The problem is now even when u do all your time u still have to come out and be on parole. I have 5 years of parole. This is the reason y the prison are so full. You get sent back for the smallest little mistake.they need to do away with the post release control program. I seen guys come back 3 or 4 times in my 5 years.

Posted by: jimmy | Mar 16, 2011 10:24:21 PM

I am also waiting for some results regarding the parole board. They promised my husband based on their guidelines back in 2006 that he would come home and now they say they are not going by those guidelines anymore. He was sentenced by the judge and they are sentencing him all over again. When is it going to stop???? I would love for governor Kasich to do what he promised us. He would gain so much respect from democrats if he released prisoners that have good behavior. I agree that we don't want to release those that haven't fulfilled their time and who have bad behavior. However something has to be done about the Parole board and soon!!!

Posted by: Angela Douglas | Mar 21, 2011 9:06:52 PM

Gov.Kascich,I'm a fiance of an inmate under the old law. My fiance has done 19 years of his indefinite 20-50 sentence.Not for murder but for robbery/kidnapping. The victims advocates has no decision on his release.During that time he has gotten his GED,and many other certificates in the 19 years he has been incarcerated.He was incarcerated at age 18 and is still serving time for robbery/kidnapping.Not saying any crimes are to be over-looked but there are far more horendous crimes that are occuring/occured with less sentences. He is not the same person he was before his incarceration;he to is a changed man and just wants another chance at life to become a tax-payer and simply do whats right for himself and his family.I also believe that the parole board is simply basing their decions to deny most imates is simply for job security and thats simply not fair for anyone.

Posted by: shanyn | Mar 24, 2011 7:05:50 PM

To Mary D You say you did 5 years in prison and have to do 5 years parole? By law this is only true if the Judge who sent you to prison also sentenced you to 5 years parole, did he? If not they cannot do this and you should contact a lawyer.

My friend went to prison because he took a deal as a 1st time offender they said he would only serve 3 years now 20 years later he is still there! He has taken every program they wanted him to take and has taken some on his own that were not required, works every day and has not been in trouble, yet to keep their jobs the parole board keeps flopping him! The governor needs to look at these cases and especially any first time offenders who have taken their programs and worked and stayed out of trouble while in prison who has in more than the miniumn time should be given a parole!

The justice dept. makes prisons keep inmates at least 80% of thier full time in order to give the state money this should be reduced so some inmates can get out. Between the Justice Dept. and the parole Board if you got a 5 to 25 year sentence they are going to make you do at least 24 years to keep their jobs and to be able to collect the money from the justice dept!But wouldn't Ohio save a hell of a lot of money not having to pay all the parole board members, all the parole officers and and their secretaries and rent and utilities and gas allowneces if they let the old law inmates out and did away with the parole board and parole officers?

Why is Ohio so hell bent on spending billions to keep old law inmates in prison while letting our schools go without funding? Ohio is doing this to keep a handful of people in a job while our schools and our children suffer!

Posted by: Patti | Jun 7, 2011 2:09:17 PM

What about the technical parole violators? The state gets a certain amount of money for inmates, but not for the tech parole violators. I dont understand why someone who has an alocohol problem is sent back to prison for yrs, when they could be placed in a program and monitored out here. Technical parole violators account for more than half of the overcrowding in our prisons, and no money is recieved for them to be there.

Posted by: Jackie | Jun 25, 2011 10:30:44 AM

I am a mother who has a son sentenced under the old law. Offenders under the new law are getting less time for the same crimes. They are getting out before he even is able to go to the parole board. The Governor needs to look at old law inmates sentencing. He could cut alot off the budget if he released most of the old law inmates.

Posted by: Sherry Jennings | Jul 16, 2011 9:25:56 AM

I am writing for my finance e that is in prison (Allen Correctional Institute in Lima Ohio)( Doc) Tim Brown Sr. 375-481 . We sent you a letter I believe earlier this year and neither one of us heard from you. This man is going to be 65 come July 22, 2012. He has had 3 consecutive sentences, and is innocent, 2yrs flat time, 5yrs Old Law, 5-15 Old Law, served 2&5 went to the board after serving 5yrs, at which time gave me 7 more yrs without looking at my institutional record, served 80% of my time. Isn't there something you can do? He went to Supreme Court and they never left him speak, nor his lawyer. He has a very good conduct and has a strong faith while incarcerated and was heavily involved in prison ministry. He has been well respected at each prison he has served. Mansfield, Madison, and now Allen Correctional. I believe in the letter we had sent he was asking you to consider letting him go because of money being spent for being in prison..
There was a woman that was on death row and she spent 26 yrs in prison and she was released to go home. Gaile Owens 58 yrs old . Governor Phil Bredesen he acknowledged the abuse claims but gave a different reason for his decision to spare her life. Bredesen said prosecutors ha agreed not to seek the death penalty if Owens pleaded guilty but then put her on trial when her co-defendant wouldn't accept the deal. Then this guy John Seigenthaler founder of the First Amentment Center at Vanderbit University and Owens supporter said the first time he met her nearly 3 yrs ago ,he could tell she was sincere and fearful for future..
Now that I have wrote some of her sitation why is it she gets out and a man Tim Brown Sr. can't even get out and he never committed no murder at all.Is that fair?? I don't feel it is. He is 64 and is a well liked person and serves the Lord and should be able to have his freedom. Won't you please do all you can to get his release? He is under the old law.. thanks for listening. If possible let me know your thoughts.. Blessings ! Carol Learned..

Posted by: Carol Learned | Oct 19, 2011 11:09:16 PM

I am writing to support the great need to allow the old law inmates their freedom if they have served time and have a good present in place and have been educated in whatever issue they were seak in. I too, feel the parole board is just holding on to the inmates for their security. Many men are ready to start a new life, a right and decent life but by the time they get out, if they do, what then? If they are too old to get in with a job whose partly to blame?

Sincerely, Sharon Howell

Posted by: Sharon Howell professor | Jan 16, 2012 8:57:30 AM

I also have a brother under the " old law". He has served over 30 years which it seems no hope of parole. He been up for APA board three times which
they added 10 plus 5 then another 5 years after serving 10 years. The next hearing is in 2014 which most likely will be another five years added. This is a abomination of Human Rights. The sad fact is that no one seems to care. Families are strugglings trying to do whatever is needed to help and support their love one. Writing letters, talking to and paying Lawyers nothing helps. So, if Governor Kasich is willing to help revised "Old Law" a lot of families would be over joyed to have some sense of fairness and hope that these inmates can be released.

Posted by: D. J. Burnley | Feb 18, 2012 8:16:10 PM

I am concerned Governor Kasich about Ohio Parole Board codemning prisoners for returning to prison for the smallest offences,that do not consist of murder, or drugs. I am privy to an inmate that has been to prison 4 times and released. The first conviction was for a murder 40 years old. He has never gotten off parole for the murder. He returned to jail on a 5th degree felony and the parole gave he 62 months to serve on a violation. I don't see the equivelency. The time give by the paole board over exceeds the sentence. Where is the rational in the parole board. He is under the old law.

Posted by: I am a student of argosy university | Feb 29, 2012 10:11:01 PM

I'am writing cause my kids father have been lock up under the old law he was given 15 t0 70 he has done 16 years so far he went to the parold board march 2012 and they told him to come back in 5 years and i feel their wrong he has not been in any trouble in 5years since be lock up he has finish high school and collage and have done over 30 programs from drugs to being his self to vitmas rights i feel he his be treat wrong and should get a second change to prove he a better man, to make up for all his wrong i would really like for u to look at his case hes in ross chillithoe i ask to please contact me and if i can help u in anyway please let me know so please give me a second look case has been lock up since he was 18 and hes now 36 and he not in their for munder i have people who crime was worst then his and got less time or are out now so please help us end this parold board form this path of unfairness cause their destory familys and life last i look we are in american please help me fight them....

Posted by: nicole bartley | Mar 11, 2012 8:30:50 PM

RELEASE OLD LAW INMATES

Posted by: tracey hyde-martin | Mar 19, 2012 2:48:25 PM

dear govenor i have brother in grafton ohio i like him get release he doing good he been cent sept 12 please i miss him a lot that onley family i have please he never been it trouble before

Posted by: allen | Dec 27, 2012 4:13:43 PM

Mr. Governor.
My Brother Robert Carpenter was at my house in Florida when he turned himself in. He was afraid of the other three men involved in this. He called the police in Port Richey Florida 4 times before they finally came out to arrest him. I believe my brother when he said he did not touch Kevin. My brother and I have always been close to each other and always truthful. I believe my brother should be This man should be released not just for his family but to keep the integrity of the judicial system/law system, and the police. he was promised to be released early for cooperating then, I do not under stand why He is still in prison. This just lets other know that the incentive to get offenders to cooperate and testify to help any case, are lost and therefore, you lose that power, and also lose the integrity of the systems involved. If promises are not kept, then people will not cooperate...simple as! I love my brother and I know he needs his family and his family needs him so please take a look at this case. I do not understand why for his parole hearing it was like a trial all over again. Please again I ask that you take a look at this case.

Posted by: Trish Carpenter | Feb 27, 2013 10:57:03 PM

My husband is old law been down 20 yrs going and he never killed nor raped anyone and this was his 1st offense yet the parole board flopped {re-sentenced} for Nature of Crime whisch will never change they didnt go by his instittutional record of all he has done to rehabilitate his self the jobs he hs done ministry ged vocational trade programming which is in his 2nd victims awareness program now due to the parole board said he needed to do even tho he had taken the same program already but if they wld had looked at his fil they wld had known that or there faith in there programs doesnt apply and it just gives them something to say at the harings. my husband has a home to come home too and support ready and job offers for he day he is released ive got a petiton which we r reaching 200 signatures for him to have a 2nd chance. we both are researching trying to get him home so that we may live our married life without prison.

Posted by: Penny Sanders | Oct 10, 2013 9:21:49 PM

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