Ohio Law to Shrink Prison Population Takes Effect

New law gives judges more sentencing options.(Photo: S. Falkow (Flickr))
New law gives judges more sentencing options.(Photo: S. Falkow (Flickr))

A law aimed at shrinking Ohio’s prison population to about 47,000 inmates by 2015 takes effect Friday, part of an overhaul of the way Ohio punishes criminals and sentences them to prison.

The law will put fewer nonviolent offenders behind bars and give judges more sentencing options, moves that could save millions of dollars a year.

Ohio has about 51,000 inmates in 31 prisons built to hold about 38,000 prisoners.

The state estimates the inmate population will rise to 54,000 in four years without action.

Prisons director Gary Mohr said has 12,000 inmates are serving sentences of under a year and some of those for just a few months or less.

Backers of the law say changes will also help prisons get tougher on inmates who need strict discipline.

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