Daniels said not only should lawmakers hold off until that review is done, but they should stop advancing bills that add to the Ohio prison population. “We are in crisis mode here. We have been for a number of years.”
Ohio prisons, which were built to house roughly 38,000 inmates, now incarcerate 50,500 at a cost of $1.67 billion a year.
Each time a harsher prison sentence is added to the books, more people are eligible for time behind bars. Daniels said the layers of new laws and penalties have a compounding impact on the prison population.
The ACLU reported that legislators have a “every problem is a crime” mentality that led to a new law includes jail time for fixing an agricultural weighing machine without first registering with the state.
Criminal defense attorney Barry Wolford criticized lawmakers who use sympathetic crime victims to justify new mandates, new crimes and harsher penalties. Often the tough-on-crime bills are named after victims. “Soon we’ll have a full sorority of victims enshrined in the Ohio criminal code,” he said at the ACLU press conference.