Diversion Could Solve Ohio's Prison Overcrowding Problem

Apr 14, 2017

Ohio’s 27 prisons are a third over capacity with more than 50,000 inmates. The prisons department would get $3.6 billion in the governor’s proposed budget to maintain that system. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler spoke to the prisons director about a diversion program that could change that.

The program would send non-violent, low-level offenders headed to state prisons with sentences of a year or less to counties, which would get $23 per prisoner per day. Eight counties are already in the program. Some lawmakers note that $23 doesn’t cover all the costs to local communities, but prisons director Gary Mohr says something has to be done about overcrowding besides an obvious billion dollar idea.

“I am not going to build a prison. I will walk away in a hot minute. And yet we do hear some people that think that’s the right thing to do.”

Mohr says 27 other counties have expressed interest in joining the diversion program. Gov. John Kasich’s budget would spend $58 million on it, and Mohr says it will save the state $20 million.