Criminal Justice Legislation

HB 82 – Privatization Expansion of Local Jails (2015-2016)

Link to Bill:
https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA131-HB-82
Status:
Failed
Summary:

Read our May 13, 2015 testimony in opposition to HB 82 before the Ohio House State Government Committee.

HB 82 will expand the ability of counties and municipalities to privatize their jails. Traditionally, jails house misdemeanants, prisoners convicted of a misdemeanor, while prisons traditionally hold felons, prisoners that have been convicted of felonies. Currently, jails, which are controlled by local government entities, can only privatize if they only house misdemeanants. HB 82 will expand the ability of jails to privatize by allowing jails to contract to house misdemeanants and felons.

Primary Sponsors:
Secondary Sponsors:
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Committee:
State Government and Elections (H)
LSC Legislation Status:
https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-status?id=GA131-HB-82
Jurisdiction/Legislation Level:
State
Our take on this bill:

The ACLU of Ohio opposes HB 82 for many of the same reasons it has opposed other private prisons throughout the state. Ohio has a poor track record when it comes to private prisons.  Recently, the federal Bureau of Prisons decided to end its contract with the private, for-profit prison company, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which operates the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center (NEOCC). NEOCC, like many private for-profit prisons, has high rates of violence and drug abuse, very few programs geared toward preventing recidivism, deplorable conditions, lacks transparency, and is extremely mismanaged. Due to the shocking conditions and mismanagement, the Bureau of Prisons ended their contract with the CCA.

Private for-profit prisons are not the only problem. Private for-profit juvenile justice facilities have seen an increase in sexual, physical, and mental abuse.  In many of the sexual, physical, and mental abuse cases, the guards hired by the private corporation were the perpetrators.  Similar issues were found in private jails.  While the Wackenhut/Geo Group was in control of Travis County State Jail, 11 former guards and a case manager were indicted on sexual assault, improper sexual activity, and sexual harassment charges.

HB 82’s provision to allow private jails to house both misdemeanants and felons will attract many more for-profit prison companies.  It is likely that these private jails will have the same problems that were found in the NEOCC. Therefore, the ACLU opposes HB 82.

Bill Status:

Introduced in the House on 2/25/15

Referred to the House State Government Committee on 3/3/15

Received Committee hearings on 3/18/15, 4/29/15, 5/13/15