Criminal law debate focuses on Ohio inmates early release

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Early release options for inmates would expand by increasing the maximum amount of credit prisoners may earn for taking in-prison programming from 8% to 15% of their sentence, under a debated update to Ohio’s criminal justice laws.

Providing an incentive for taking programming would positively reinforce rehabilitation and give inmates hope of leaving sooner by putting the work in, Kevin Werner, policy director at the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, told the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, according to Gongwer News Service.

Ohio prosecutors oppose the concept, saying Ohio is releasing inmates sooner and sooner without regard for public safety. The measure also doesn’t offer protection for the rights of victims and chips away at truthful sentencing, said Louis Tobin, executive director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association.

A related proposal in the 1,792-page legislation would allow Ohio prison officials to grant early release to certain short-time inmates without judges’ input.