ACLU of Ohio study highlights growing issue for women incarcerations

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — The ACLU of Ohio has released a report that said there is a disproportionate amount of women in prison for drug offenses compared to men.

Off white prison bars in the front with a jail cell behind it
[Michael Coghlan | Wikimedia Commons]
The report said, of the women sent to prison in 2020, 39% were for drug-related offenses. Researchers noted that 26% of the women prison population were there for drug offenses. The report said there is about 14% more women in prison for drug offenses compared to men.

Gary Daniels, ACLU of Ohio’s chief lobbyist, said these numbers underscore the importance to keep pushing for criminal justice reform.

“It’s the war on drugs that’s fueling this. We can tinker around the edges, we can engage in some very light reform, or we can be very serious about fundamentally treating drugs and drug addiction in a way that we don’t here in Ohio,” said Daniels.

Overall, the study found that Ohio ranked 17th in women incarceration in 2019 and that the number of women in Ohio’s prisons has increased by 600% since 1980.

Daniels said the study is a rare dive into the statistics of incarcerated women. He added that more data is needed on this issue and the issue of drug sentencing.

“This is a gigantic mystery here in Ohio about all of this and anybody who tells you they have the answers to this, I would love to see their data. And so we just suffer from a real lack of data here in Ohio to guide these policies and to guide these decisions,” Daniels said.

Daniels noted the anticipation for the Ohio Sentencing Data Platform, which can act as a resource that aggregates sentencing data.

The Ohio Supreme Court is accepting public comment on proposed rules regarding the development of the Sentencing Data Platform which will be open to suggestions until June 28.

One proposed rule is to make that data available through a portal that the public can access.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have proposed bills in the Ohio Statehouse to make changes to the criminal justice system.

Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) has introduced a comprehensive package that has gained supporters and opponents. Meanwhile, legislators have been working on measures to reform the state’s bail system.

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