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Ohio's New Prison Reforms Swap Prison Time for Rehabilitation

photo of prison bars

Changes are under way for how much time a person might spend in prison for a non-violent crime. The reforms of Ohio's criminal justice system will cut down on prison time in exchange for more community-based rehabilitation. Supporters believe they will not only save the state money but improve community safety.

Someone sentenced to 12 months or less for fifth-degree felony will no longer be sent to a state prison if they're from one of Ohio’s 10 largest counties. Instead, they'll will be under community control. Lawmakers also approved shorter sentences for technical probation violations and for those who work to rehabilitate themselves while in prison.

'You're gonna have much better results; you're gonna have reduced recidivism, and you're gonna save a whole bunch of money.'

Lenore Anderson with the Alliance for Safety and Justice says this is a more balanced approach to criminal justice.

“That didn’t spend all our public safety dollars on bloated prisons but instead in local treatment, diversion and community programming along with holding people accountable for those who do need to be incarcerated. You’re gonna have much better results, you’re gonna have reduced recidivism and you’re gonna save a whole bunch of money,” Anderson said.

The diversion from state prisons will start next summer.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.