Kasich Gets Mixed Reviews In Fourth Debate; Exhibit Shows Talent Behind Prison Bars

It’s another week on the road and in the spotlight for Gov. John Kasich, who was among the eight leading candidates on the main stage for the fourth Republican presidential debate this week.  And he got the worst headlines of his presidential campaign after this debate. The Ohio Supreme Court says requiring convicted sex offenders to register and check in periodically with authorities is not cruel and unusual punishment. Republican lawmakers have said they intend to take up medical marijuana, now that voters have rejected legalizing both medicinal and recreational pot through Issue 3. And Sen. Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) says it's about time. Just days after voters soundly rejected Issue 3, the group behind it got the green light to go ahead with another pot-related proposal. And bills dealing with guns are among those that lawmakers are expected to take up in the next few months, as Katy Andersen explains. (Katy Andersen is a fellow in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau.)

One in every 99 adults in the US is living behind bars – it’s the highest incarceration rate in history. And some of those people are paying dearly for their mistakes, and not just through a loss of freedom. They’re paying so-called “pay to stay” fees to local jails. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has studied those fees in 75 full-service jails in a report called “In Jail and In Debt”. And Mike Brickner with the ACLU those fees can add up, and put an former inmate's employment, housing and family life on the line when he leaves jail. David Mahoney of Marion said his time in jail left him with a mountain of debt and constant calls from collectors.  But Bob Cornwell with the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association says the costs to operate jails are rising, and allowing for community service or other solutions to pay those fees off might not help.

From local jails to state prisons – the 50,000 men and women behind bars in Ohio’s 27 prisons accept their tough sentences, do their daily prison work, consider the permanent damage they’ve done to their victims and find ways to educate and improve themselves, some of them are also creating amazing works of art. And just a few examples of that art is on display now in the lobby of the Vern Riffe Center on Capitol Square in Columbus. The exhibition “Inside Looking Out: Creative Works by Ohio Prison Inmates” is a project of the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and the Ohio Arts Council.  The display features portraits, landscapes, photorealistic images alongside three dimensional works in a variety of media – some very unexpected. Donny Inman of Chillicothe, who's being housed in the Southeastern Correctional Complex in Lancaster on an eight-year sentence, is one of the featured artists. Mary Gray with the Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery says the art is as good as she's seen in a museum, and Joanna Saul with the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee says she hopes this will become an annual event. The work is displayed without the artist’s name – just the facility where the inmate is housed, to protect victims and their survivors.  And  these pieces aren’t the only examples of art in Ohio’s prison system. There are theatre production companies at the Ross Correctional Institution in Chillicothe and the Marion Correctional Institution, and the men’s choir at the Warren Correctional Institution near Cincinnati was honored with a gold medal in the World Choir Games in 2012.

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