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July 26, 2010
Judicial Leaders Briefed on Criminal Justice System Study

Ohio judicial leaders joined representatives from the executive and legislative branches today at the Columbus Renaissance Hotel to discuss a report on the cost-effectiveness of the state’s criminal justice policies.

In 2008, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, then-Supreme Court of Ohio Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer and state House and Senate leaders launched an effort by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center and the state of Ohio to develop a data-driven strategy to reduce spending on corrections while improving public safety in Ohio.

Today’s report highlights three areas in which the state could make improvements that could reduce crime and use existing resources in a more fiscally responsible manner:

Short sentences for property and drug offenders are not effective at reducing recidivism and create a costly “revolving door.”

Community correction programs do not have clear criteria to inform the selection of program participants, making it difficult for these programs to be cost-effective tools for diverting people from prison and reducing crime.

Ohio’s probation system is a patchwork of independent agencies that do not have consistent policies.

The Justice Reinvestment Initiative is the result of a 2008 request by state leaders to the CSG, Pew Center on the States, and U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance for assistance in developing a statewide policy framework for the corrections system.

A bipartisan work group including state agency directors, legislative leaders, top officials from the court system, and other public sector representatives, was established to guide the intensive technical assistance provided by the CSG Justice Center.

Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton represents the judicial branch on the initiative’s core leadership team with Administrative Director Steven C. Hollon. In her welcoming remarks today to open the daylong policy conference, she noted the importance of this kind of research. “Uncovering hard data will help us make good public policy decisions regarding the criminal justice system,” Justice Stratton said. “In these tight budget times, we need to seek a better use of state dollars that results in better outcomes.”

Chief Justice Eric Brown closed the conference by applauding the collaborative nature of the three branches of government in this initiative. “Your approach, to reach across the aisle to bring together practitioners and professors ... to bring together the legislative, executive and judicial branches is the way we should address most every issue of great importance ... by working together, sharing ideas and information,” he said. “I am confident that by working collaboratively we can reduce spending while improving the delivery of services to the criminal justice system.”

Also in attendance was Justice Maureen O’Connor.

Access the report.

Contact: Chris Davey or Bret Crow at 614.387.9250.