Criminal Justice

In Franklin County, people with sex offenses register at the Karnes Building on High Street.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU News

Even as most Ohioans are encouraged to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic, people convicted of sexual offenses are still required to register in person. Some Ohio counties and even nearby states have waived that in-person requirement, but most, including Franklin County, have not.

Advocates of bail reform protest Cuyahoga County Jail conditions in January 2019.
Nick Castele / Ideastream

Columbus recently moved to stop requesting cash bonds for most people charged with non-violent crimes, instead letting them out of jail as they await trial. It’s the latest in a statewide effort to reform cash bail, which tends to keep poor people behind bars.

A task force convened by Gov. Mike DeWine discusses improving the state's warrant database on January 21, 2020.
Adora / WOSU

The Ohio Governor’s Warrant Task Force met Tuesday morning to discuss recommendations for improving public safety.

Wikimedia Commons

The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected a recommendation that tools used to measure offenders' likelihood of skipping out on court appearances after an arrest be made available to all judges as they make bond decisions.

The number of people housed in the Cuyahoga County Jail continues to go down as improvements to the bail system across the county are implemented, according to members of the Criminal Justice Council.

But advocates for bail reform and improved jail conditions say there’s still work to be done.

The Ohio Prison Fire

Dec 5, 2019
Rescue workers aid fire victims at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio on April 21, 1930. More than 300 persons, mostly inmates, perished in the fire.
Associated Press

On Easter Monday in 1930, a fire trapped hundreds of inmates in the aging Ohio Penitentiary just minutes after they returned to their cells after a holiday supper.

What remains the deadliest prison fire in American history claimed the lives of 320 men who hailed from every corner of the country and beyond.

The tragedy made heroes of some and highlight the horrifying penal conditions in Depression-era prisons across the country. 

In this November 2005 file photo, Larry Greene, public information director of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, demonstrates how a curtain is pulled between the death chamber and witness room at the prison in Lucasville, Ohio.
Kiichiro Sato / Associated Press

Gov. Mike DeWine is delaying the execution of a death row inmate for the second time, as the state works to overhaul its lethal injection protocol. But anti-death penalty advocates say it's time for a more comprehensive change to the way Ohio prosecutes capital punishment cases.

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

The second night of the Democratic debates in Detroit did not stray from its predicted script: It was open season on front-runner Joe Biden right from the start.

But it was also something of a free-for-all, with every candidate for himself or herself. And the intensity and outcome of the exchanges may have come as a surprise to some of the people onstage.

Marijuana plants
Jim Mone / AP

Columbus City Council votes Monday night on a plan to reduce penalties for marijuana possession in the city code.

The Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio.
Gabe Rosenberg / WOSU

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners renewed funding Tuesday for prison and jail diversion programs.

Advocates for reforms at the Cuyahoga County Jail are trying to keep the pressure on county leaders, seven months after a U.S. Marshals Service report called conditions at the facility “inhumane.”

A coalition of activist groups rallied outside the Justice Center on Monday morning before packing a justice reform meeting chaired by the county executive and presiding common pleas judge.

Criminal Justice And Mental Health

Jun 13, 2019
File photo (flickr)

A proposed House bill would bar the death penalty in cases where the convicted can prove he or she suffered from serious mental illness while committing the murder.

The proposal comes from a growing understanding about the role of mental illness in crime.

Today on All Sides, the intersection of mental health and criminal justice, and how some Ohioans are working to move people who are mentally ill from prison and into treatment.

Nick Castele / ideastream

A special grand jury indicted five Cuyahoga County corrections officers Monday on civil rights and other charges. Attorney General Dave Yost’s office accuses the guards of mistreating jail inmates.

Dan Konik / Statehouse News Bureau

Two inmates stabbed while at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Wednesday against the prison warden and several guards and nurses.

The Ohio Supreme Court chief justice is gathering a team of experts to examine the state’s bail system, determining whether or not the system is unfair for people who are arrested but held on expensive bail before they can argue their case.