“On Wednesday, June 14th, Sheriff Jim Neil declared a state of emergency at the Hamilton County Justice Center due to jail overcrowding. The ACLU of Ohio has taken bail reform head on, and it is rapidly becoming one of our main criminal justice focus areas.
Over the past several months, sanctuary cities have been under increased scrutiny by federal officials. We can’t allow this.
Why Sanctuary Cities?
Sanctuary cities have adopted social, economic and political policies to protect the constitutional rights of all their residents, particularly those who are undocumented.
The only good thing about Washington Court House arresting naloxone-revived opioid users is that it shows everything wrong with criminal justice today. Since February, this town nestled between Columbus and Cincinnati has been charging overdose victims with “Inducing Panic” after emergency responders revive them.
The ACLU of Ohio has been fighting “prisons for profit” for years. The trend to privatize prisons as a method to reduce costs has been ineffective, and only contributes to the surging rates of mass incarceration, with Ohio prisons at 130% of capacity.
Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the ACLU of Ohio, is a realistic optimist—a valuable trait for the rare dissenting voice against mass incarceration in the Ohio Statehouse.
Our powerful new report, Statehouse to Prison Pipeline 2017, sprang from Gary’s everyday experience listening to legislators, police and prosecutors as they earnestly justify destructive policies: sending more people to prison, for more reasons, for longer periods.
Sentenced to ten years, out in two. Outrageous!
The myth that prisoners serve small fractions of sentences is one of the most destructive falsehoods driving the tragedy of mass incarceration. In Ohio and elsewhere, the use of parole and probation has shrunk to levels that can only be described as harmful to us all.
After bringing the legendary Selma marches to the big screen, Ava Duvernay returns with a new Netflix documentary, 13th, telling the true story behind the 13th amendment. Passed in 1865, it declared that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The amendment was one of the most important in history, yet its wording enabled slavery to evolve in America, allowing discrimination against African Americans to continue within our justice system.
By Jeff Miller
Following the release of a report that showed how dangerous and mismanaged private prisons are, the Department of Justice announced that the Bureau of Prisons would stop using them for federal prisoners. This was a big step in the right direction and celebrated by advocates who have diligently worked against prison privatization.
By Steve David
Last week, the Department of Justice announced an end to using private prisons to hold federal prisoners. This decision followed a scathing report which highlighted that private prisons are less safe, provide less services and programs, and do not substantially save on costs.
Mr. Kenyatta is a prisoner rights activist and businessman who was released from prison 13 years ago. He spent time in solitary confinement at both of Ohio’s maximum-security prisons and was part of the ACLU lawsuit, Austin v Wilkinson, which drastically changed prisoner classification in Ohio to ensure more humane living conditions.
This post is part of the joint report between Disability Rights Ohio and the ACLU of Ohio – “Shining a Light on Solitary Confinement: Why Ohio Needs Reform.” Take action to reform solitary confinement in Ohio.
Justin committed a crime. He was found guilty of aggravated murder and robbery, along with two others.
By Shakyra Diaz
I recently conducted a training for a group of incarcerated women which outlined what to do if you’re stopped by the police. As we discussed how to file a complaint if treated unfairly by an officer, one woman declared, “No one believes a felon.”
The other women in the room nodded their heads in affirmation.
By Mike Uth
Beginning in the 1970’s, Switzerland faced a surge in heroin abuse much like the one we are seeing now in Ohio. Then, as now, the surge devastated families and communities, and was accompanied by increased crime, homelessness, overdose deaths and increased rates of HIV infection.
By Steve David
The ACLU of Ohio’s groundbreaking film “Prisons for Profit” has been recognized as one of the top documentaries in 2015 by an international audience.
Most recently, the film has been selected as the Silver Award Winner in the 2015 Spotlight Documentary Film Awards.
It is already incredibly difficult for people leaving prison and jail to succeed on the outside. They must contend with criminal records that follow them at every turn. It prevents them from getting certain jobs, or even living in certain apartment buildings.
By Dan Rogan
“We must talk seriously about criminal justice reform because of how close it is connected to racial justice,” said Piper Kerman, discussing the intrinsic relationship between the two issues. Piper’s words struck a chord over 300 attendees at this year’s Ed Likover Memorial Lecture.
By Shakyra Diaz
A criminal conviction damages a person’s present life and future prospects. From employment to housing, higher education enrollment and student loans, a criminal conviction creates so many barriers to opportunities. Given those startling facts, we can agree that a state prison system operating at 130 percent capacity is unhealthy for those incarcerated and for the state that put them there.
By Shakyra Diaz
Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Drug Court with fellow ACLU intern, Kyra Schoonover. It certainly was an eye-opening experience for both of us.
How It Works
Before the proceedings began, we met with the judge.
Often, when we as a society talk about reforming our criminal justice system, it’s about finding jobs for individuals released from prison or diverting them to treatment in the first place. Rarely do we focus on the conditions of incarceration and its impact on people once they’re released.
By Lisa Wurm
The Ohio General Assembly has now passed the state budget, and the first quarter of the two-year legislative session is over. As always, the ACLU of Ohio has been very active at the Statehouse in what was a very busy first six months.
If you go without food for just eight hours, your body will decrease its use of energy, the heart will pump slower, you will produce less heat, and hunger pains build.
Earlier this year, the ACLU of Ohio watched in dismay as people in Ohio’s super-maximum security prison in Youngstown went on a hunger strike.
By Steve David
Shortsighted policy decisions to cut spending often cost the state more than it saves. That’s one of the lessons history teaches us, particularly when it comes to prisons for profit.
In September 2011, Ohio completed the sale of Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut to the Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest for-profit prison company.
It was a chilly October last year when my colleague and I visited the super-maximum security (super-max) Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown. Before entering, I thought there was nothing more restrictive than the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, aka Lucasville prison. I could not have been more wrong.
You are locked inside a room the size of your bathroom for 23 hours a day and let outside for one hour, but only when it’s warm and only in a cage the size of a walk-in closet. Your meals are eaten inside this room, and there is limited reading and television access.
It doesn’t matter whether you call it local control, disciplinary control, administrative segregation, or restrictive housing, it’s extreme isolation. Putting people in solitary confinement is something the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed “physical and mental torture.”
Since 2012, Ohio has operated a tiered system in which prisoners are given a level ranging from 5b down to 1.
Putting people in isolation is devastating and makes recovery next to impossible. If you didn’t have a mental illness going into isolation, it’s likely you will have one coming out.
Research shows that prolonged solitary causes a persistent and heightened state of anxiety, nervousness, headaches, insomnia, nightmares, and confused thought processes.
By Kim Schuette
It doesn’t take too much imagination to see the heads slowly wagging back and forth at the local coffee shop when they learn the news. I can even see the eye rolls, too.
No, not from surprise or disbelief, but from the senselessness of it all.
By Kim Schuette
A new year and a new minimum wage.
On January 1, Ohio increased its hourly minimum wage from $7.95 to $8.10—85 cents higher than the federal minimum wage. The tipped wage also increased to $4.05—7 cents higher. This modest increase benefits about 277,000 working Ohioans and is estimated to put more than $36 million back into our economy reports The Columbus Dispatch.
Our country’s public health is at risk. No, it’s not from Ebola or this year’s virulent strain of the flu.
It’s from mass incarceration.
A new report, “On Life Support: Public Health in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” issued by the Vera Institute of Justice, focuses on the alarming impacts of imprisonment on individual and community health.
By Mike Uth
To combat abuse of heroin and prescription opiate pain killers there are several principles we need to keep in mind and actions we need to take.
We must shut down all the pill mill pain clinics, imprison the doctors who run them, and make every other doctor too scared to prescribe opiate pain killers at all.