More than 6,000 people are released from state prisons in Ohio every year and hundreds more leave local jails. There are numerous laws in place in Ohio that diminish the ability of these individuals to successfully transition from prison or jail back into the community. These laws undermine any commitment to fairness and justice and sets roadblocks for these individuals to obtain basic human needs such as jobs, housing and employment. While I remain steadfast in my belief that any individual who commits a crime should be held accountable by fulfilling the punishment set forth by our court system, I also believe that if our current re-entry policies remain in tact, we will continue to witness the revolving door syndrome.
As our state struggles to balance its budget, one key question should be not whether to cut criminal justice spending but how can we cut our criminal justice spending - in particular the cost associated with corrections - without diminishing the security of our state.
As the legislative aide to State Representative Annie Key, I drafted several pieces of legislation that would make modest changes to our current policies. A few of these policies include House Bill 267 of the 126th General Assembly which would prohibit individual boards and commissions from denying an individual a professional license unless the crime was substantially related to the occupation or license the individual is seeking. Also, House Bill 249 of the 126th General Assembly, with certain exceptions, provides for the automatic sealing of the official records in a case in which a person is found not guilty of an offense by a jury or a court, is the defendant named in a dismissed complaint, indictment, or information, or against whom a no bill is entered by a grand jury.
As your next state representative I will continue to advocate for policies that balance the safety of our great state while protecting the needs of our often neglected citizens.