Fewer Prisoners

THE PRISON population in Ohio is on the decrease. That is a good thing.

Even at that, slightly more than 50,000 individuals are still incarcerated in the Buckeye State. That is a staggering number and places Ohio at 134 percent of capacity.

That presents an obvious problem. In fact, California’s system was declared unconstitutional at 140 percent, meaning federal courts could intervene and order expensive changes.

That is a place the Ohio panel system does not want to go. So, seeing a drop in numbers is a relief to state officials.

The declining prison population is being attributed to community programs that work with newly released prisoners combined with new prison units that prepare them for life outside the lockups.

Those methods have resulted in fewer prisoners returning to Ohio prisons. That is a trend we hope continues.

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction says the current inmate return rate of 27.1 percent, down from 28.7 percent a year ago, is far below the national rate of 40 to 44 percent.

Less crime means fewer victims and less money being spent on the operations and construction of prisons. Consequently, more spending can be channeled to areas of need such as education.

Projections have the prison population dropping to 47,000 by 2015 and continuing to decline. Such a drop would be a nice feather in the cap of Ohio penal officials and the programs they have implemented.

Fewer inmates mean fewer headaches and fewer monetary obligations.