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Two Big Rulings On Voting Rights, And Criticism Against Ohio For Its Use Of Solitary Confinement For Prisoners

Now that John Kasich is back to being governor full time, he’s catching up on his bill signings - including the historic legislation legalizing medical marijuana in Ohio. More than 400 officeholders, activists and leaders with the Ohio Republican Party gathered for their annual statewide dinner last weekend. There are two big decisions that have happened this week when it comes to voting rights in Ohio - the rejection of the state’s request for a stay on the ruling on the so-called Golden Week in which new voters could register and vote at the same time, and the decision challenging absentee and provisional ballots and the time that voters have to deal with discrepancies. Secretary of State Jon Husted says both rulings are being appealed, and that they have elements that contradict one another.

One of the most controversial experiences about prison is solitary confinement – when an inmate is confined to a cell the size of a parking space for 23 hours a day, with only limited access to recreation, books, television and social interaction. The inmate eats all meals in that cell, just a few feet away from the toilet, and when the inmate does get a chance to leave that cell, he’s often taken to a cage the size of a walk-in closet. That’s the description offered in a new report on solitary confinement in Ohio prisons by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and Disability Rights Ohio – which got involved because more than a quarter of the 2,952 people in solitary confinement in Ohio are mentally ill. The groups are calling on the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to reform solitary confinement, saying it doesn’t change behavior, prepare inmates to leave prison or make those prisons – or communities – any safer. ACLU of Ohio Regional Director Adrienne Gavula and Kristen Henry, an attorney with Disability Rights Ohio, talk about the report.