Earned Credit is a process which allows incarcerated individuals to earn days off their prison sentence if they participate in educational, substance abuse and other programming. The Ohio Revised Code currently limits the aggregate days of credit available to a person to 8% of the person’s prison sentence. This is one of the lowest rates of Earned Credit nationwide and about half the federal rate.
In addition to current legal restrictions, there are clear disparities amongst prisons in the availability and accessibility of credit-eligible programming. Where some prisons have robust programming, others have limited-to-none–or at least minimal access to them. This results in a vast disparity between individual experiences for those seeking credit-eligible programming.
We researched Ohio’s Earned Credit program through:
- Interviewing individuals with lived experience in Ohio
- Interviewing practitioners who advocate for earned credit expansion
- Analyzing data received from the ODRC
- Attending meetings where Senate Bill 288 has been discussed
- Ohio has one of the lowest rates of Earned Credit in the nation at 8%.
- Access to Earned Credit is limited, and there are differences in access across prisons.
- The average percentage of the total prison population earning credit from January to June 2022 was 19.38%.
Senate Bill 288, the “criminal justice omnibus bill” passed the Ohio General Assembly and was signed into law by Governor DeWine on January 3, 2023. One key provision included changes to Ohio’s Earned Credit process. SB 288 nearly doubled the amount of time a person can earn off their total prison sentence – increasing the cap from 8% to 15%. It also increased the amount of credit available from one day to five days per month of participation for most convictions. Additionally, SB 288 allows the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director to authorize “any other constructive program developed by the department of rehabilitation and correction with specific standards for performance by prisoners.” These updates are wonderful news, but the work must continue. Our research revealed that access to Earned Credit was limited and there were stark differences in access across prisons.
Disclaimer: These materials were created by Rachel Gagnon, Rayshun Holt, Jocelyn Rosnick, Bryan Stewart, and Hillary Stewart—members of Leadership Ohio Class of 2022. However, the research, recommendations and views expressed are only those of the team members and not that of Leadership Ohio.