COLUMBUS—A new ACLU of Ohio report, issued today, finds that Ohio legislators introduced 137 bills in the last legislative session to send more people to the state’s already overcrowded prisons and jails. The report, Ohio’s Statehouse-to-Prison Pipeline: 132nd General Assembly 2017-2018, reveals that our elected officials are damaging their own “multi-year effort” to simplify the criminal code by lengthening sentences and proposing new criminal offenses.
“Mass incarceration begins at the statehouse,” said Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the ACLU of Ohio. “The effects of continually doing what doesn’t work are well-documented, and the purpose of this report is to highlight the role and responsibility of the Ohio General Assembly in maintaining our state’s ongoing, dangerously crowded prison system” The report identifies that 12% of all bills would put more people in prison or jail.
A similar report was issued in 2017, analyzing the 131st legislative session, and the ACLU found that while the Senate introduced 28 fewer bills in total, it included 19 more bills with mass incarceration implications when compared to the prior session, jumping from 6.4% to 12.3% of all bills introduced in the Senate. “We cannot arrest, convict, and incarcerate our way out of this crisis, and while our legislature remains paralyzed by inaction, our communities are suffering; especially communities of Color,” added Daniels.
The report, Ohio’s Statehouse-to-Prison Pipeline 2019 edition, calls for a series of reforms, and the ACLU of Ohio urges legislative leaders to: stop introducing bills that create new crimes, instruct caucuses not to advance legislation already introduced that create new crimes or criminal penalties, and to freeze sentencing enhancements permanently.
Read the full report.