Daniel J. Dew
Columbus, OH – Today, The Buckeye Institute released its latest policy report, “Money Bail”: Making Ohio a More Dangerous Place to Live, which looks at the need for Ohio to replace its failing cash bail system with proven risk-assessment tools that provide a fairer, more efficient way to keep Ohio’s communities safe and secure.
Ohio’s prison system costs taxpayers $1.8 billion every year. By reexamining criminal justice issues, policymakers are ensuring that those dollars are spent wisely. Good policy ensures that dangerous criminals are off the streets, while those who have made mistakes and can be safely rehabilitated in the community are placed on the path to become responsible citizens.
The FBI recently released national crime data for 2016. Following the national figures, Ohio’s violent crime ticked up by 2.8 percent and property crime decreased slightly. While any increase in crime raises some concerns, it’s important to look at the data in historical context. Despite the up-tick, violent crime in Ohio is down almost 14 percent since 2008 and an astounding 31 percent from 1997. Likewise, property crime is down 29 percent from just a decade ago.
Ohio has aging water and sewer systems that are constantly in need of repair and many need to be replaced. Unfortunately, some localities are limiting competition by requiring the pipes be made of a more expensive material, when it would be in taxpayer’s interest to consider all materials that are deemed safe.
An accused serial killer walked out of police custody only to commit another felony. Around that same time, another man was held in jail for violating a dress code. His crime — wearing a hoodie and saggy pants inside an RTA hub. The alleged murderer walked free, while the man with droopy drawers sat in jail. The reason? One had access to money while the other didn’t.
As bail reform proposals gain momentum across the country, the bail bond industry has been under the gun and bail agents—like Dog the Bounty Hunter—are looking to protect their profits. Bail reform advocates have been challenging the constitutionality of cash bail in court for years, but now the bail industry itself has filed suit to oppose New Jersey’s new bail initiatives.
Ohio has greatly benefited from the discovery of the Utica and Marcellus shale formations, which has brought money and jobs to an economically depressed part of the state. According to Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, shale has created more than 195,000 core and ancillary jobs in Ohio and, on average, those jobs pay 36 percent more than the average Ohio job. That is good news for the Buckeye State.
Strong evidence indicates that “lock’em up and throw away the key” policies make our communities less safe and come with a hefty price tag. Ohio spends $1.7 billion every year on corrections—$25,000 per inmate per year—and research suggests we are overpaying for our investment. Study after study has demonstrated that evidence based criminal justice reforms make communities safer while saving constituents money.
Now that the Ohio House of Representatives has approved its version of the state’s biennial budget, it falls to the Senate to improve House Bill 49 and address the missed opportunities for significant reform. To help the Senate improve the budget and keep Ohio on the road to success, The Buckeye Institute offers the following suggestions.
Columbus, OH – The Buckeye Institute’s Daniel J. Dew testified today before the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee on the criminal justice reform policies found in Senate Bill 66, sponsored by Sens. John Eklund (R) and Charleta B. Tavares (D). Dew is the Criminal Justice Fellow at the Institute’s Legal Center.