[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the Ohio Justice and Policy Center (OJPC) [advocacy websitew] released a report [text, PDF] on Tuesday with recommendations on reforming the criminal justice system in Ohio [ACLU press release]. The report details six headlines of focus: limit harsh, automatic punishments; prioritize rehabilitation; release innocent people from jail; decriminalize poverty; limit collateral consequences; and reform community control. Steven JohnsonGrove, the deputy director of OJPC, spoke on the negative financial impact Ohio's mass incarceration problem has on other fields that influence the criminal justice system:
The $1.7 billion spent to operate the state prison system each year is money that should be used to enrich our communities. Every dollar used for funding prisons is a dollar not spent on crime-survivor services, schools, addiction treatment, mental healthcare and other services that keep people out of the criminal justice system in the first place.The organizations explained that Ohio needs to make substantive changes to the system while also addressing these underlying policies that contribute to the mass incarceration and other problems.
As the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] calls for reform in state courts, the treatment of prisoners and prison reform [JURIST podcast] have been matters of ongoing concern in the US. Earlier this month the DOJ urged state court systems [JURIST report] to stop using procedural routines and hefty fines to profit off poor defendants [press release]. Last month the Supreme Court of California ruled [JURIST report] that Governor Jerry Brown can put his plan to ease prison overcrowding on the ballot this November. In January the US Supreme Court ruled that a landmark decision banning mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles should apply retroactively [JURIST report]. In August the DOJ reached a settlement [JURIST report] with Los Angeles prisons on mentally ill inmate care. In May Human Rights Watch released [JURIST report] a report stating that mentally disabled prisoners experience "unnecessary, excessive, and even malicious force" at the hands of prison staff across the US. A federal court in February 2015 approved [JURIST report] a settlement agreement between the Arizona Department of Corrections and the American Civil Liberties Union in a class action lawsuit over the health care system within Arizona prisons. Also in February 2015 rights group Equal Justice Under Law filed suit [JURIST report] against the cities of Ferguson and Jennings, Missouri, for their practice of jailing citizens who fail to pay debts owed to the city for minor offenses and traffic tickets.