FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 31, 1997
PRISON BUDGET OUTLINED
(Columbus) -- Noting that the 1998/99 Fiscal Year budget request for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) exceeds one billion dollars per year, DRC Director Reginald A. Wilkinson and Office of Budget and Management Director Greg Browning met with reporters today to explain the budget and the department's efforts to keep costs down.
"We've been good stewards of the taxpayer's dollars," said Wilkinson. "We haven't sat idly by as our prison and parole populations went through the roof. We've testified to the legislature about the impact of each and every proposed sentencing law. We've pushed hard for community-based punishments, and we've got them. The rate of people coming to prison is actually declining. Balancing that is the fact that violent and repeat offenders are staying in longer - as they should."
Among the points outlined were:
Ohio's prison system is the nation's fifth largest state prison system with over 46,000 inmates as of January, 1997.
The national incarceration rate has increased from 293 per 100,000 citizens in 1990 to 419 in1996. At the same time, Ohio's incarceration rate has increased from 289 per 100,000 citizens in 1990 to 397 in 1996.
Ohio's prison population has increased from 31,519 on January 1, 1991, to 45,962 as of January 1, 1997, a 45.9 percent increase.
The Department also supervises over 27,000 individuals in the community, an increase of over 7,700 or 49.9 percent over 1991.
On July 1, 1989, there were 2,173 offenders in state-funded community alternatives to prison. On December 1, 1996, that number has risen to 9,506, 4.3 times as many in just seven years.
Since 1991, 36,000 offenders have been sentenced to community-based punishments, saving $313.6 million in prison operating costs. The community diversion programs cost the state $126.5 million, for a savings of $187.1 million.
Wilkinson added that the department is known for holding the line on spending without jeopardizing security or reducing adequate care and treatment programs.
"We would all rather see this money appropriated to schools and other deserving agencies," said Wilkinson. "But the fact is we have 46,000 prisoners and 27,000 individuals on the street who we absolutely must supervise in an effective and safe manner. Our safety, and yours, depends on the tools we're given to do our job."
Ohio has the lowest average daily cost per inmate per day of $40.70 or $14,855 per year (January 1, 1996) when compared with states holding the ten highest inmate populations.
By using prototype designs and construction methods, the cost of building new prisons in Ohio is among the lowest in the nation at $28,400 per bed. The national average is $51,299.
The national average for inmate to corrections officer ratio is 5.6 to 1. Even though at 6.8 to 1, inmate to staffing levels are higher than the national average, Ohio prisons have a low rate of assaults and escapes relative to other prison systems. In FY 1991, the inmate to corrections officer ratio was 7.9 to 1. The Department projects that by the end of FY 1999, the ratio will be 6.0 to 1.
For further information, please contact the DRC Office of Public Information Office at 614-752-1150.
This page last updated: February 3, 1997